Sunday, December 25, 2016

I'm Dreaming of a (White) Christmas Physical Comedy

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Merry Christmas all!

Here's a little physical comedy gem for you from the 1954 Bing Crosby – Danny Kaye classic film, White Christmas. This is Danny and crew in "Choreography," a parody of modern dance, and especially of Martha Graham. Enjoy!

BTW, Riley Kellogg found this photo of the real Martha Graham and also informs me that the structure the Kaye dancers climb on towards the end is a reference to the more than twenty sets the famous sculptor Isamu Noguchi built for Graham dances.

On the Second Day of Christmas Update:  And this just in from my old friend Jim Moore, whose excellent VAUDEVISUALS blog yesterday featured a slapstick version of White Christmas performed by Lou Costello. Click here to watch. The mayhem starts around the minute and a half mark.

On the Third Day of Christmas Update:  And this just in from Ira Seidenstein, who knows a thing or two about a thing or two.  Choreography by Martha Graham and featuring Merce Cunningham.

From the Performing Arts Encyclopedia,:
Performed by the Martha Graham Dance Group to music by Paul Nordoff, Every Soul Is a Circus premiered on December 27, 1939, at New York's St. James Theatre. Costumes were designed by Edythe Gilfond and the set was created by Philip Stapp. This work marked the first appearance of Merce Cunningham, who became the second male dancer (after Erick Hawkins) to join Graham's ensemble. Composer/critic David Diamond, writing in Modern Music (December 1939) said, "The circus she creates is one of silly behavior and ridiculous situations, its theme, the desire of woman to be the apex of a triangle, the beloved of a duet, who, as the spectator of her own actions, becomes the destroyer of experiences necessary to her essential dignity and integrity. It represents the fullest consummation of Miss Graham's conceptions. She has unified her entire dance vocabulary into a simple and direct theatrical means of projection and communication. The perfection of her technique, the warmth of personality, make this performance a piece of the most poignant clowning seen in the dance."


Michael McGuigan said...

Funny, and very interesting, in that I know Kay to be a master of movement. But it seems to me that because he (I am guessing) might really loathe modern dance "choreography", his own satirical choreography here seems pedestrian and wishy-washy. His imitation is definitely not flattery.

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