Since his birthday is coming up on May 10th, we are excited to celebrate the legacy of Fred Astaire by examining all of the different ways they still celebrate the ballroom dancing legend around the world.
He passed away back in 1987 and, as the years pass, you might think Fred Astaire would move on to become a memory: a talented dancer from the past or a historical footnote from the golden age of Hollywood. His star destined to fade and dim, as generations of his peers follow him. But that hasn’t happened. His legacy lives on and his talent remains in the spotlight, and now younger and younger generations are being exposed to his work and inspired to carry it forward.
We certainly are doing our part here at Fred Astaire Dance Studios. His style and grace motivate us as well as our students, but we’re not the only ones keeping Fred’s flame lit.
Back on the Big Screen
In fact, younger generations are being introduced to Fred Astaire in much the same way previous generations were introduced to him; on the silver screen. Laemmle Theaters, a group of family-run art-house movie theaters, recently did a series of showings of Astaire films in and around the Los Angeles area. Their classic double-bill showing of “The Band Wagon” and “Easter Parade” featured Fred at his best; larger than life and dancing in all the big-screen glory. Laemmle Theaters and other chains are providing audiences with the opportunity to see classics they way they were intended to be viewed — popcorn included!
The Great American Songbook
Fred Astaire was back in the spotlight in April, but not necessarily for his dancing. The Axelrod Performing Arts Center in New Jersey recently wowed audiences with their production of “Let’s Face the Music: The Timeless Songs of Fred Astaire.” Lead vocalist Danny Bacher said of Astaire, “I feel that Fred Astaire, though hailed as one of the greatest movie musical dancers and performers of the golden age of Hollywood, is often overlooked as one of the great interpreters of the American popular songbook.” From Gershwin to Irving Berlin and beyond, audiences young and old were exposed to the magical talent Astaire brought to every production.
Back by Popular Demand
In the U.K., a tour in tribute to Astaire was so popular the producers decided to go out again. “Strictly Come Dancing” professionals Aljaz Skorjanec and Janette Manrara recently kicked off a 46-date tour of their theatre show titled “Remembering Fred.” Skorjanec told the Leamington Spa Courier, “It’s an honor to celebrate Fred Astaire’s career and to perform all the routines inspired by his genius. Just like Fred, we will again be doing it big, doing it right, and doing it with style!” Janette went on to explain their hope to reach out to a younger audience. “We want to educate them and give them a bit of an insight about this legend who never dies and what he brought to the dance and film world.”
Looking for Fred
Darcey Bussell, or maybe we should say Dame Darcey Bussell, has a pretty illustrious career as a dancer herself. The retired ballerina is also a judge on the BBC reality show “Strictly Come Dancing.” She exposed a huge new audience to Fred Astaire with her BBC One documentary called “Darcey Bussell: Looking for Fred.” It’s full of delightful interviews that spotlight Astaire’s path from Nebraska to Hollywood. While the program originally aired in the U.K. audiences can still watch it on the video site Vimeo.
Legacy Lives On
Astaire may be gone, but his legacy and the love of his audience continue. Fred Astaire Dance Studios across the country keep Fred’s flame burning brightly, so his artistry will always live on, for generations to come.