Dancing In the Dark

Cyd Charisse, who died yesterday, really was one of my favorite dancers. She was famous for the femme fatale roles she exemplified throughout the 1950s (beginning with one of the all-time great film entrances in her appearance in Singin’ In the Rain), but she was in a different category than most of her female colleagues—at a time when the prevalent style of female dance in Hollywood musicals was the high-octane athleticism of Eleanor Powell or Ann Miller, Charisse was effortlessly smooth. Here’s perhaps my favorite example, her and Fred Astaire in the “Fated to be Mated” number from Silk Stockings—precise, casual grace.

Her New York Times obituary reports that she “was believed to be 86″—a nice bit of old-time movie-star historical fog.


  1. Very nice clip, and thanks. The choreography is a little Ice-Capades-y–is that Hermes Pan? But Cyd and Fred are terrific. “All of Me” stood high in the opinion of the Tristano School… and the wonderful line “she came at me in sections” (from “Bandwagon”‘s Mickey Spillane parody number) gave Pauline Kael the title of a review.

  2. Two other clips of Ms. C: one from “Silk Stockings” with her indulging in the Titled Item, set to a beautiful tune by Porter. (He wrote one ballet score, received badly: he should have tried a second time): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rvbS5LJND8 …. and courtesy of the Boston playwright/critic Carl Rossi: << Here is one of Ms. Charisse’s dance numbers from the aforementioned PARTY GIRL (1958), a gangster film (not a musical):

    …the number is almost a parody of what Ms. Charisse could do when originally inspired; here, it’s become routine but she’s still marvelous to watch, here, if now as an athlete rather than a dancer. And, remember, the film is set in the 1930s, even though Ms. Charisse’s dancing clearly is not! The scowling gent in close-up is Robert Taylor, the longest contract player in the history of MGM studios; Mr. Taylor was considered the handsomest man in Hollywood because his facial features were perfectly proportioned – they were measured and declared to be balanced with one another, just as Dietrich had the most perfectly proportioned legs in her day. Hollywood – the Dream Factory…accent on “factory”. C.R.>>((sorry I don’t know how to make these links work on a comments section. –RB))

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