Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fred Astaire danced very well. He presented the song-and-dance numbers in his movies very well.

It would take a musically trained curmudgeon to focus on teh fact taht Fred Astaire did have a big voice or a big range of notes he could hit.

The effect of a song-and-dance number Astaire was in was delight because he and the people he worked with knew how to make the most of what they had.

Irving Berlin wrote the songs for the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rodgers movie "Top Hat," including the song "Cheek to Cheek."

Philip Furian and Michael Lasser wrote of "Cheek to Cheek," "'Cheek to Cheek' begins with an ascending line whose final note reaches the upper limit of Astaire's vocal range. When he sings, 'Heaven, I'm in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak," in fact, he can hardly speak. When the line, also characterized by a series of breathy 'h' sounds comes to an end, it's virtually mute, made only of breath, a suggestion of love as something ineffable, graspable only through dance."

Now you too are using your outermost limits to create something we can dance to, and we thank you.

--quote from "America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley" by Philip Furian and Michael Lasser

Fred Astaire worked very well with others.

He and his sister Adele Astaire became famous dancing together, often in London. She married a duke and stopped dancing on the stage.

He and Ginger Rodgers became more famous dancing together in movies many people could see, right during the Depression, when people needed to know, cheap, that life could burst into dance.

After Ginger Rodgers decided she wanted to do more serious acting and ceased to be Astaire's partner, he said he would never have a permanent partner again, because it hurt to much to lose that working colleague.

He kept the promise. An understandable choice, and we are all missing something because of it, the amazing work that Astaire could have done with his third ondoing dance together person. It may mean that we have to go on working together and working on the idea of working together longer that we think we want to.

Just to check for the next pot of beauty, which is, after all, partly for other people.

Einstein said you can't solve a problem on the level at which it was created. You have to move to the next level.

Different combinations of people can find that new and unsuspected level.

Two lines after barely being able to sing "barely speak," here come the rhyme "dancing cheek to cheek," and Fred and Ginger do so, moving into Fred's area of strength.

Astaire's first two partners, Adele Astaire and Ginger Rodgers, were unlike him in that they could stop dancing. And did, to his pain. But maybe the fact that they weren't quite irretrievably sunk in dancing as he was is part of what made the dancing amazing.