Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let's celebrate Gene Kelly!

Hi everyone,

As you may know--especially if you read my post about attending last month's screening of Singin' in the Rain--Gene Kelly is one of my most favorite people no longer on the planet.

I can't remember exactly when I fell in love, but my first memory of him was watching his "Heather on the Hill" dance with Cyd Charisse in Brigadoon when I was  11 or 12. However, he was also in Xanadu, a movie I was completely obsessed with when I was 6! I had no idea who he was at the time--clearly mesmerized solely by that movie's combination of Olivia Newton John, roller skating, and catchy songs that I sang along to every time. But maybe it was really in Xanadu that Gene Kelly tapped into in my subconscious.
So, you could say that Gene Kelly's been in my life for most of it. And I can't image it without him. I joke that I must have fallen on my head when I was 12 because I seem to have never passed that celebrity-obsessed teenybopper stage. When I was 12, my life was about my three heroes: Johnny, Sting, and Gene!

After Brigadoon, I had to see every Gene Kelly movie I could find and read all about him. He's a really important figure in dance and film history, having invented a whole new dance style and making it accessible to everyone. But I never really thought of Gene that way: In my eyes, he was confident and handsome and romantic and smart and funny--and he danced on air!

Today would have been Gene Kelly's 100th birthday, and I've been contemplating how to celebrate it. Last night, I was still in the throes of brainstorming! What's the best way to spread the love to you about a guy who hit his prime in the early 1950s?

While pondering this question, I watched "So You Think You Can Dance," my summertime obsession! The weekly dance competition, which is working its way toward finding America's Two Favorite Dancers (one guy and one girl),  is down to its Top 10 contestants. This week, the group opened the show with a Gene Kelly tribute choreographed by Tyce Diorio. The dance, a kaleidoscope of Gene's famous dances and movie moments, began with the camera focused on Cyrus (my Favorite Guy) snapping a film clapperboard with Gene Kelly's name written on it. I gasped at the sight of it and beamed smiles as I recognized each familiar character and move.

That's it! Nobody makes me smile like Gene Kelly. Last week, Julie and Liam gave me a customized iphone case that's decorated with three photographs of Gene. I don't even own an iphone yet, but the case makes me smile whenever I look at it.

But what really sends me over the moon is the dancing. Gene shared pure joy with every step.

So, here's to a year of Gene Kelly celebration! I haven't yet figured out a schedule, what I'll call it, or what I'll draw, but The Kitties are already in rehearsal and auditioning for the starring role of our tribute. (Don't worry, I'll let you know when I figure out all the details.)

While The Kitties and I don't plan to feature his entire filmography, we will honor our favorite Gene Kelly dances from most of his musicals--with a few surprises thrown in as extra treats. I'll also be sure to include videos of each dance so that you can see the inspiration. May they give you the same glorious feeling I get every time I see them. It's kind of like this....

Our Gene Kelly Tribute is coming soon, so stay tuned.... In the meantime, don't forget to catch some of Gene's movies today on TCM. His wife, Patricia, is hanging out with host Robert Osborne this evening, starting at 8 p.m. Good movies, amazing songs and dances, and trivia--Talk about treats!


Image copyright credits: Brigadoon: MGM; Xanadu: Universal Pictures; Gene Kelly still: unknown; Singin' in the Rain: MGM.

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