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Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Man's Man . . . A Great Dancer . . .Gene Kelly

Another great link from Mark Evanier's blog

In 1958, Gene Kelly did a TV special called Dancing is a Man's Game. The unspoken (but unmissable) message of it was that just because a guy dances, it's doesn't mean he's a homosexual. I dunno if anyone ever thought that about Kelly or Fred Astaire or any of those guys but I guess that notion was around back then. Anyway, Kelly made his case by bringing on a number of men who seemed inarguably straight to dance, and he also did a lot of comparisons of dancing to the more macho sports. He likened certain dance moves to, for example, a base runner sliding into home plate.

We were shown a condensed 16mm print of this special in my seventh grade class. I don't recall anyone in our class or anywhere who thought that dancers trended towards the gay...though the teacher of that particular class made Paul Lynde look butch. I do remember everyone being impressed with Mr. Kelly's style and dexterity. For many years now, my friend Richard Howell and I have had a friendly, pointless argument over Astaire versus Kelly. No disrespect to Fred but I've always favored Kelly and even got to meet him once. I always felt that Fred Astaire danced in a world where everyone was impeccably dressed and the idea was just to look good and not muss your hair...but Gene Kelly danced in the real world and several others. Here's a brief clip of him hoofing with the man some think was the greatest boxer of the twentieth century, Sugar Ray Robinson...

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