March 8th is International Women’s Day. In 2018, women are pushing forward, speaking up, and living out loud…and the year’s only just barely begun! It’s a day for the global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
When dance fans talk about cultural dance icons, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly usually “take the lead.” Here at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, we know it takes two to tango, so let’s shed light on the ladies, particularly the dancers from Hollywood’s Golden Age of song and dance movies.
She will always be part of the most famous dancing duo of our times (in our humble opinion!), but Rogers deserves to be recognized for her own successes. Who could ever forget the famous quote said of Rogers and Astaire: “…don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did…backwards and in high heels.” She made 73 films on top of her work in theater and television. She is considered an icon and was honored at the Kennedy Center for her contributions.
Many people today remember Judy Garland for her amazing voice. After all, she was the first woman to win a Grammy award for Album of the Year. But Garland was a skilled dancer, gliding across the silver screen with the likes of Astaire, Kelly, and Mickey Rooney in classics like “Easter Parade” and “Summer Stock.”
This Texas-born entertainer has a most interesting backstory. She took up dancing as a way to recover and build up strength after a childhood bout of polio. And recover did she ever! She blazed across the screen in “The Band Wagon” and “Brigadoon.” She reportedly once had her legs insured for 5 million dollars.
The press called her “The Love Goddess.” Fred Astaire reportedly called her his favorite partner. We call Rita Hayworth a dynamic dancer! Hayworth was the daughter of two dancers who began training their child to dance from the moment she could stand. She was skilled in ballet, tap, ballroom and Latin dance. Her skill and grace were there for all to see in films like “You’ll Never Get Rich,” “You Were Never Lovelier,” and “Cover Girl.”
The French born dancer/actor started her career as a ballerina. She is one of the few women who can claim to have danced with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly as well as Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. That’s a resume! She is best known for her roles in “An American in Paris,” “Daddy Long Legs,” and “Gigi.”
There are many more women from the era to be celebrated: Vera Ellen, Debbie Reynolds, Ann Miller, Juliet Prowse, and Mitzi Gaynor. Their accomplishments on film inspired many a young girl to take off their sneakers and put on their dancing shoes. If you haven’t seen some of these dancers at work, we encourage you to rent or download one of their films and give it a watch. If you feel inspired, your local Fred Astaire Dance Studios is just a phone call away.