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The Vintage Guide To London | November 23, 2014

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At the Cinema Museum: Double bill - Princess Grace of Monaco and tap dancing on film

A fantastic double programme exploring the life of Grace Kelly and tap dancing on film, including a live demonstration!

In the first half of  the programme, Ronald Porter’s illustrated presentation is a tribute to 20th-century style icon Grace Kelly. In the first of two fairytale scenarios, he tells her story from childhood to famous movie actress. During her Hollywood years, Alfred Hitchcock played a crucial role in her career, by putting her in three of his most famous films in the 1950s – Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief and Rear Window. She won an Oscar for her performance in Country Girl with Bing Crosby, and her last film, High Society, in which she starred with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, was released in 1956.

Then came a new instalment in Grace’s legendary career: in April 1956 her life changed dramatically when she married the ruler of one of the smallest states in the world, the Principality of Monaco. Ronald Porter continues his star portrait by narrating the Monaco Years, when Princess Grace became one of the most popular royals in the world, admired by our own Queen and later by Princess Diana, and loved deeply by her husband, Prince Rainier, with whom she had three children. Her tragic death in a car crash in 1982 came as a shock to the whole world.

After the interval, dancer and actress Susan Cygan explores Tap Dancing in the Movies, with film clips and live demonstration!

At the onset of talking pictures, when musicals became all the rage, tap dancing featured in films starring some of Hollywood’s most glamorous actors. Susan will highlight the work of some of the great tap practitioners, including Fred Astaire in his famous partnership with Ginger Rogers. While many consider that some of his later partners displayed superior technical dance skills, according to Astaire: “Ginger had style and talent and improved as she went along. She got so that after a while everyone else who danced with me looked wrong.” Astaire first partnered Rogers in Flying Down to Rio (1933) and in all they made ten films together, including Top Hat (1935) and Follow the Fleet (1936).

Many of the subjects of this showcase event had their roots in vaudeville: Gene Kelly by the age of eight was starring on the amateur stage in a family dance group “The Five Kellys”; Donald O’Connor, his co-star in Singin’ in the Rain, displays both inventive vaudeville-based skills and tap virtuosity in the film’s memorable numbers such as “Moses Supposes”; and the Nicholas Brothers, considered by many to be the greatest tap dancers of their day, were a featured act at Harlem’s Cotton Club in 1932 when Fayard was 18 and Harold just 11. In Stormy Weather (1943), the Nicholas Brothers worked alongside Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, who began as a song-and-dance “hoofer” from the age of six, and is perhaps best known today for the series of films he made in the 1930s with child star Shirley Temple. Decades before, Bill Robinson, then at the start of his career, had taught child vaudevillian Buster Keaton to dance, and a particular treat of this evening’s entertainment will be a rare glimpse of Keaton in action.

Sat 28 May 2011 @ 19:30

Advance tickets £6.50

The Cinema Museum
The Master’s House
2 Dugard Way
London
SE11 4TH

Nearest Tube: Elephant & Castle, Kennington

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