As Facebook might have gently reminded you this morning, it is the first official day of summer. And no matter what that means to you (here in LA, it means a blistering hot 95 degrees) it probably comes with some personal rituals and reminders. For some, it means lemonade and Mister Softee trucks. For others, it means the beach. For me, it means obsessively re-watching the films of Gene Kelly.
I don’t know what it is about the American dancer and choreographer’s work that screams out ‘summer’ to me–I just know that each and every year, when the temperature starts to climb and the 4th of July draws near, I find myself re-watching An American in Paris.
Part of this ritual has to do with Kelly’s own beauty, and the forceful, athletic style of his choreography. Before Kelly came along, the Hollywood musical was a genteel affair, set in ballrooms and featuring men and women in elegant dining wear. Either that, or set in nightclubs featuring men and women in sleazy, glittery body suits that exposed everything. There wasn’t anything on offer that was a little but more abstract, a bit more broad in scope and operatic in nature.
Kelly came along and changed all that. With his choregraphy, his good looks, and his magnificent derriere.
That’s why for me it’s simply not enough to enjoy the films–I have to take a trip down the internet equivalent of memory lane and browse the legendary (now sadly defunct) tumblr page entitled, “Gene Kelly’s Butt.” There I find all the context I need in order to further enjoy the cinematic oeuvre of this sensationally well-proportioned man.
I give you, then, without further adieu, an invitation to make my summer ritual part of your own, with some of the best Gene Kelly dance sequences around. Enjoy, and happy first day of summer: