Singin’ in the Rain is 65 years old today! That is when it danced into theaters and our hearts. So this blog post is dedicated to those famous “classic” tap dancers and some of their most popular numbers. My first two clips are in honor of Singin’ in the Rain. I have already shared Moses Supposes in a previous post (check it out if you haven’t) and these are the other most famous numbers from that movie. While watching this dance below, it’s a fun fact (though not for Gene Kelly) that due to the buckets of water being poured on him, Gene Kelly was sick during this filming. Also, if you watch closely you will see that the pants of his wool suit shrinks due to the water throughout the dance. It’s a classic for all tap dancers so enjoy!
This is another popular classic from Singin’ in the Rain. The song might seem familiar thanks to the Tropicana orange juice commercial. This has it all with dancing on stairs, using rain coats as props, and even tipping over a couch! ‘Good Morning’ is my favorite dance number in Singin’ in the Rain. Check out Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Gene Kelly below!
Keeping with Gene Kelly classics, the next number is “I Got Rhythm” from An American in Paris. This is a heartwarming number in how he interacts with the children and he shows amazing skill (especially at the end with those crazy fast turns).
Besides Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire is the other big name in the tap world. While he has many tap numbers, I decided on this clip because it was so ground breaking in how he moves around the room dancing on the walls and ceiling. (Remember “Step in Time” from Mary Poppins, I wonder if this inspired that in anyway…) It’s a zero gravity tap dance!
What more can you ask for than two tap geniuses in one great mini-tap story! The Babbitt and the Bromide was a fantastic find on YouTube years ago and I’m so excited to share it. I love this video because it really highlights the different styles between Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly: grace vs. athleticism.
My next videos focus on some of the great female tap dancers I mentioned in my Women’s Day post! First up is Eleanor Powell dancing with Fred Astaire. He stated that she was one of the greatest tap dancers (not “female” tap dancer but of all them). However, later on it seems he was intimated by her skills as he called her style mannish and consider her too big for his partner. Due to her advance skills, he ended up following her, which probably felt unnatural to him since he was used to his partners follow his male lead. She has many dance clips that feature her as a solo performer unlike many of the other female dancers of this time.
Vera Ellen is a good example of a female dancer who always had a male partner. She was considered Gene Kelly’s favorite partner due to her great skills and that her size complimented his in film. Check out them dancing together in the movie On The Town. However, I want to showcase her in “Choreography” from White Christmas! While this number was weird and boring to me as a kid, now that I am older I really appreciate the concept behind it. They are contrasting the old ways of dance to the new styles of Martha Graham and Bob Fosse that were super strange and different for dancers but is what so much of dance is today. You’ll see what I mean below!
My favorite female tap dancer is Ann Miller! I LOVE THIS LADY!!! She was considered a bigger girl for a dancer during her time and I think that’s why there are so many dances she does solo because she was a tall or even bigger than many of her male counter parts in size. This number, “Shaking the Blues Away,” from Easter Parade is an insanely fast number and shows off her amazing skills.
For my last video, I had to do the classic “Too Darn Hot” Ann Miller number from Kiss Me Kate. This dance really highlights what she was best known for: feet moving fiercely fast and keeping her upper body calm and collected. This should be every tap dancers goal, because it is so impressive due to its difficulty (think rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time but also at different speeds and vice versa…) See how she owns this number and Enjoy!
Hope y’all enjoyed some more amazing tap dance numbers, this time from those tap dance legends who started it all! Let me know what other lists of videos I can share and that y’all are interested in. Until then, happy 65th birthday to Singin’ in the Rain and listen to my podcast below to learn more about these clips!