Is Hollywood Hoofing Again?

By Victoria Looseleaf

According to certain people in the know – the über-successful producer Craig Zadan, for example, who, with his partner Neil Maron produced the Oscar-winning film, Chicago, among others – it never went away. And while we at The Report could have written a book on the return of Hollywood’s Golden Age of Musicals (calling all publishers…), we were asked, instead, to write an article for Dance Magazine (click here to read that).

But due to length restrictions and topicality, so many great movies and peeps (Lockers’ co-founder Toni Basil, we still love you), were not mentioned. Indeed, just the other night Turner Classics had a slew of films devoted to dance, specifically ballet. Starting with The Red Shoes (click here to read our story on how Michael Powell’s 1948 iconic work outshines today’s Black Swan, then click here for more on Ms. Natalie Portman, who did less than 15% of her own dancing in Darren Aronofksy’s horror-on-pointe flick), moving backward in time to Ballerina, a fabulous 1937 feature starring Mia Slavenska in a story dealing with a balletic rivalry, an accident and a young BIT, ballerina-in-training. (Hmm, this plot is perennial, no matter the profession, from acting – hello, All About Eve – to tapping…saluting Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street.)

And with a plethora of remakes coming up (Dirty Dancing…must they?), notably Footloose arriving in theaters this month (produced by Zadan and Meron), terpsichores and those who love dance, have ample reason to jeté for joy. And, for better or worse, there’s a slew of reality TV shows that we, in the long run, think are somewhat for the better, if only because they bring huge audiences to the art form.

In any case, we’ve already done numerous stories on that hot topic. With subjects ranging from Nigel Lythgoe (click here for our Dance Mag feature on the mega-producer), and the So You Think You Can Dance effect (click here for our take on that), to the various and sundry articles on the stars those TV shows have wrought, (click here to read our cover story on Dancing With the Stars’ Cheryl Burke), all of this ink – and media saturation – does not necessarily mean it’s Hollywood’s Golden Age…Redux.

But, to quote Bob Dylan, “It’s all good.” We’re just wondering when the Hollywood powers that be will remake The Turning Point, White Nights and Center Stage. Or what about Saturday Night Fever? (Please, no, don’t do it, we’re just musing is all…). The list, nevertheless, would be endless, because there are no new stories under the sun – it’s all about presentation.

And while the presentation of today’s dancers may be sharper and more technically advanced (the same holds true for classical musicians and athletes), where is the personality, the artistry? Who is today’s Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly, Eleanor Powell. Talk about an endless list. And while we don’t exactly see Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy burning up the big screen, for us, at least, the more dance the better, so bring it on, please…

About Victoria Looseleaf

Victoria Looseleaf is an award winning arts journalist and regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times, KUSC-FM radio, Dance Magazine, Performances Magazine and other outlets. She roams the world covering dance, music, theater, film, food and architecture. Have pen - and iPad - will travel! Her latest book, "Isn't It Rich? A Novella In Verse" is now available on Amazon. Thank you for reading! Cheers...
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