Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hockey Game Tonight? What Hockey Game?

In honor of NaBloPoMO, I'll be attempting to post something every day in November. If you're not checking in every day, make sure you're catching all the posts! And now for something completely different...

Why I Love Hockey #32 - Gene Kelly
With respect to everyone else, there are two great dancers in movie history, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. The two of them are both amazingly talented and enjoyable to watch, but they have very different styles. Fred was very formal, almost always dancing in a top hat and tails. Very elegant, very graceful, a little stiff. Gene brought dancing to the common man. He danced in casual clothes and his movements were more powerful and athletic, his whole body chugging away. Because of the difference in styles, I think most people have a pretty strong preference for one or the other. While I like Fred (I particularly love Swing Time), I am a Gene Kelly girl through and through.

I know, I know... That's great, Heather. But what's it got to do with hockey? Hang on, I'm getting there.

A few months ago I read a book by Dave Bidini called The Tropic of Hockey: My Search for the Game in Unlikely Places. It was about Bidini's travels around the world where he found himself playing hockey in some very unusual places like China, Dubai, and Romania. It's a really sweet, fun book and I recommend it to the readers among you. I read it during the free agency frenzy and all the fall-out and it was the perfect antidote to all the crazies (players, GMs, media, and fans all included).

Anyway, in the book, Bidini makes a quick mention of Gene Kelly. Gene's father was Canadian and every winter he flooded their backyard in Pittsburgh and made a rink. Gene grew up playing hockey and even played in a semi-pro league for a time. Bidini said that Gene later credited hockey for some of his dance moves describing them as "wide open and close to the ground." I'd never made the connection before but as soon as I read that quote I got a mental image of Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor in Singin' in the Rain doing a move where they stand in one spot, swing their arms front to back, and kind of run in place. I thought of it because it looks almost exactly like they're ice-skating. I don't know why, but I found this to be completely exciting and endearing. If there are two things I never expected to be connected it would be Gene Kelly and hockey. But there you go, the power of hockey. Who knew that years before I fell in love with hockey I was falling in love with something directly influenced by it?

Below is the Moses Supposes routine. You can see the steps I was thinking of at the -1:54 mark when Gene and Donald jump down off the desk and at the -:12 mark after they stop piling all the junk on top of the poor elocution tutor. The image up before the video starts is a good shot of it too now that I look at it. I would recommend just watching the whole song because it's so charming and joyful. If I had to watch one scene from one movie for the rest of my life, it would be this one. I've watched it five times while writing this and it almost made me forget about the very frustrating hockey game I watched tonight which I refuse to talk about at this time.



ETA: In retrospect, I should have included this number from It's Always Fair Weather because duh, he's on skates! Granted, they're roller skates and not ice skates but close enough. Gene's hockey background would explain why he looks so comfortable on the skates. It gets really good dancing-wise around the -2:00 mark. I wanna see an NHLer pull this off.

7 comments:

Margee said...

Never thought I'd have resason to love Gene Kelly more. But now I do. Thanks!

Margee said...

Okay, that clip from It's Always Fair Weather is amazing. AMAZING! The man was a genius.

Heather B. said...

Okay, that clip from It's Always Fair Weather is amazing. AMAZING! The man was a genius.

I know, right? Amazing and so, so beautiful.

Meg said...

That second clip is incredible.

Kate said...

Holy COW! I can't believe how good he is at dancing in roller skates. About a year ago I went rollerskating (old school) and it was surprisingly difficult. It's was harder than ice skating or rollerblading because you can't really turn by leaning your weight. You have to do the damn crossovers which scare the bejeebus out of me. Anyhoo, Gene Kelly is a super stud. Thanks for sharing these clips, Heather!

The Guy You Thought Was Rude said...

Kelly was a dynamo, thanks for showing those!

Heather B. said...

Kate, I went rollerskating with a group of my kids from school a couple of years ago and I couldn't believe how hard it was, and I used to skate a fair amount. I couldn't do the "easy" parts of Kelly's routine without seriously endangering myself. Glad you guys enjoyed the video!