Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire – Mentors Extraordinaire

When I was a kid, I loved watching the old movies and cartoons on TV.  After reading, driving my teenaged aunts crazy, building forts, and playing with our animals, this was what I loved to do.

I especially enjoyed when the old dance movies of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers would be on.  They were so…..sophisticated, glamorous, funny, romantic, and….they could dance!!!  After a movie, I’d practice steps upstairs in the long upper hall.  I’d glide, tap, leap, spin, grab a cat or a puppy and sashay down the floor.  I was doing the quick step, Fox Trot, and waltz before I was nine.  When I was forced to go to Cotillion School (aaarrrrrgggg!), I already knew how to dance – I just needed to learn how to dance with a human.  My dance mentors, Fred and Ginger, had already taught me how to hold myself, how to hold a frame, how to get up on the balls of my feet, develop a sense of rhythm and style.   As badly as I did at small talk and flower arranging, I was the cotillion school’s leader in dancing.

Years later, my husband wanted to learn ballroom dancing.   When deciding where to place us in dance classes, the owner/best instructor lined us up two by two and put us all through a baby waltz. At the end, he looked at me and asked if I had had lessons and of course, I said no.  He looked at me like hmmmmm.  He then put on a quick step and said he would see what I could do following him.  To both my amazement, I followed him, kept up with him, and only made a few missteps in the simple routine he put me through.  When we turned a corner or promenaded, I was right there with him.  I held myself perfectly and did heel leads without thinking.  He asked again, have you ever taken lessons?  I ‘fessed up.  No, but I had watched a ton of Fred and Ginger movies and then imitated them when I was a child. I also told him I had once taught a friend of mine how to disco dance, cha-cha, and waltz, and had been to cotillion school.   He smiled hugely and put me several classes ahead of my husband, much to hubby’s chagrin.

I love to dance.  I am not an artistic creative dancer;  I do a passable quick step and tango.  But I am a great waltzer! Besides the exercise, dancing is good discipline.  Not only that, I learned some good lessons from the songs that formed the basis of many of the dance numbers.  In Follow the Fleet, Ginger Rogers us to “Let Yourselves Go”.  In Swingtime,  when you get knocked down or fall down, “take a deep breath, dust yourself off, pick yourself up, start all over again.”  Excellent lesson for us all.  From another movie, when faced with hardship, defeat, whatever:  “Face the music and dance”  (Follow the Fleet)   And when given a bad situation?  Turn it around.  “Isn’t it a lovely day to be caught in the rain?” (Top Hat).

Dancing was almost as good as flying.  It made me smile, feel graceful and glamorous, and how to move in a disciplined and rhythmic manner.  Dancing gave me a different perspective on life and how I perceived myself and the world around me.  Oddly enough,dancing helped me when my first love, my Samurai, taught me kendo and how to use a katana.  I returned the favor by teaching him to waltz and cha-cha.

I’ve posted two videos – “Let Yourself Go” (Follow the Fleet) and “Cheek to Cheek” from The Gay Divorcee.

Shall we dance?  Indeed – Let yourself go!!  Hotcha!

21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ann Koplow
    Jan 09, 2014 @ 20:07:02

    LOVE this post, for oh so any reasons, including the beautiful writing. Thanks so much!

    Reply

  2. cindy knoke
    Jan 09, 2014 @ 20:34:15

    so esquisite! the bestest~

    Reply

  3. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Jan 09, 2014 @ 20:35:07

    Love the videos. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I loved Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and I miss ballroom dancing. `Course I need a partner again. 😀

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Jan 09, 2014 @ 20:42:26

      I have found a broom does fine!! and of course, I don’t mind cutting up by myself when no one else is around. I can be Fred AND Ginger!!!

      Reply

      • Let's CUT the Crap!
        Jan 09, 2014 @ 20:51:53

        That can only mean you are more of a natural. 😀

        Reply

        • kanzensakura
          Jan 09, 2014 @ 20:56:36

          My family would agree, although they may ask… A natural what????:-)

          Reply

          • Let's CUT the Crap!
            Jan 10, 2014 @ 09:18:15

            How about a natural natural then? 😀

            Reply

            • kanzensakura
              Jan 10, 2014 @ 09:39:18

              LOL…I’ll take it!!!!! actually, I don’t know if it is that I am a natural so much as that I immersed myself in those movies and am a good mimic…..and I am a very good mimic.

              > Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2014 14:18:18 +0000 > To: thspencer51@hotmail.com >

              Reply

              • Let's CUT the Crap!
                Jan 10, 2014 @ 09:46:17

                *smiles*
                You’re a natural mimic. I can’t mimic anything. 😦

                Reply

                • kanzensakura
                  Jan 10, 2014 @ 10:27:56

                  It isn’t a matter of being particularly smart or agile or talented. Because I am insatiably curious, I observe everything – especially people. I love to watch people. when I was a kid, and I was a tiny thing, I often was not noticed so I could watch people to my heart’s content. I’d listen to their tones of voice, how they moved, how they moved when they said certain things in certain tones of voice. I’d pick up obvious gestures such as when I was doing ballroom dancing, Ginger Rogers had a way of extending her arm that was unique to her. My Aunt Gay, when she was flustered – her voice would get a tad bit higher and faster, her eyebrows went up and her shoulders went up almost to her ears. My greatgrandfather would stroke his mustache at certain times and his eyes would rapidly blink and he’d rub his hands. The greek lady across the street who had enormous bosoms would rest her arms on them as if they were a shelf. You get my drift. during a family talent show one night, usually quiet (ha!) when it was my turn, instead of showing the latest trick I’d taught one of the cats or dogs, I imitated my grandfather watching boxing, my aunt Gay flirting with her boyfriend, and Mrs. Kerinakis fussing at her husband. My family just rolled. After that, it was a regular event. But I could be a bit….cutting with it sometimes.

                  > Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2014 14:46:19 +0000 > To: thspencer51@hotmail.com >

                  Reply

  4. seeker
    Jan 10, 2014 @ 21:23:42

    They are just perfect couple for a perfect music to dance. Thank you for the memories.

    Reply

  5. Bernice
    Jan 13, 2014 @ 12:56:38

    I love Fred Astaire!!!

    Reply

  6. Mélanie
    Jan 14, 2014 @ 06:49:46

    LL=large like both! 🙂 they’re living legends…

    Reply

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