Dancing is an art that influences the soul (Plato)
The ability to dance is like sex. At 18 you're best at it but you don't understand a thing about it. At 35 you know all about it but you can't do it as well. It's very sad.
Jack Wintz. St. Anthony Messenger. Catholic magazine. August 1980
“For better or for worse, you are identified with your famous dancing sequence in Singin’ In The Rain…
Do you feel comfortable about being identified with this one dance? Is this the true Gene Kelly?”
“Well, yes, it is. The main thing I’ve always strived to do is to bring joy with the dancing…
It’s not a great dance as such. It’s the joie de vivre of the number and the way it’s constructed and performed
that makes it succeed. But I’m very pleased with it because it represents what I’ve always tried to do.”…
“Generally, I feel that dancing in pictures should bring joy.
It should be uplifting rather than a medium for sending a message.”
Gene, magazine article 1958
As I look back on my career, I can heartily subscribe to Plato’s deduction that dancing is an art that influences the soul.
It has been the open-sesame to me of a most satisfying life, with ever-extending borders. If one has the talent, has the heart to work hard,
I would be the first to say ‘Go to it’.
Dance and Dancers November 1952
I just hated the dance.
Loathed the whole idea of it – this somewhat surprising statement from Gene Kelly was in answer to the stock question –
Have you always wanted to be a dancer?
“I had to dance my way through college because I had no money. It was during the slump.”…
Emily Bennington, Skip Lineberg. Effective Immediately. How To Fit In.
Find Your Inner Gene Kelly
Back in the Golden Era of Hollywood, Gene Kelly was considered by many to be the best dancer in the world…Did he actually float? Nope. Was the dancing really effortless? There’s the catch. In reality, it was the effort – the very nature of the effort – that made Kelly look so graceful.
Gene Kelly was a student of what we call the ‘incremental edge.’ In short, it’s the theory that seemingly little acts can make a huge difference in one’s competitive advantage...Kelly’s ‘edge’ included the way he wore his hat, the crisp creases in his trousers, and the precisely placed angle of his dance cane. These were the little things that, when taken as a whole, seemed to make his dancing effortless.
So today, did deep into your profession and discover your own Gene Kelly dance steps. Find those small, incremental, makes-all-the-difference edges in the way you present yourself and your work…
From sleeve notes, Totem Records, On The Air. Greg Gormick. September 1980
Gene: It was an accident how I learned what to do with my style of dancing, a style that is particularly and peculiarly American,from my point of view. When I had to do some dances for Time Of Your Life, the writer, Bill Saroyan, had an Armenian mouth organ player do some of the music. I said, ‘Americans can’t dance to Armenian music.’. And he said, ‘Go ahead, you can do it.’ And then he had a black pianist playing a 12-bar blues and I wondered how you could relate these styles. One day it hit me, because I learned you can do anything with dance if you do it through the character. That, I believe, is my contribution, if any, to American dance.
Film Dope 1984
He has done for heterosexual male dancers what Warren Beatty did for heterosexual male hairdressers
The Entertainers. Magazine. After 1976. Gene Kelly: Dancing Athlete. By Saul Chaplin.
As a former amateur violinist with a useful knowledge of music, Kelly has always exerted more than the usual influence on the sound and style of the music for his numbers. He always approaches musical numbers from a dramatic standpoint, and since he's such an accomplished actor and dancer, the results are often quite extraordinary - as demonstrated by the varying moods of the American In Paris ballet and the Slaughter on Tenth Avenue number in Words and Music and, at the other end of the spectrum, the uninhibited joy of his roller-skating number in It's Always Fair Weather and, of course, almost everything in Singin' In The Rain. In fact, if a song doesn't lend itself to dramatic treatment, Kelly isn't interested.
Dance magazine. July 1976
Norma McLain Stoop
…”The greatest contribution Gene Kelly made to American dance,” Kelly jokes, “is that he’s finally shown the male dancer how to dress! You can’t play a part and come out in ballet slippers, and you can’t come out in regular shoes, so I sort of invented the wearing of moccasins (which bend like ballet shoes) and white socks, and made sure that the pants were very tight and rolled up a bit, and wore a shirt or sweatshirt or something that would show the figure…Course, when we went into ballet, then I wore a tight black outfit and a little white collar, which has become pretty standard for a lot of popular and serious ballets – when they want to say ‘This is not Swan Lake or Giselle.’..A sailor costume is the best for a man to dance in if he’s playing a role. It is one way to avoid the balletic convention of the tights.”
Once you’ve seen Kelly dance you know what falling in love looks like, sounds like, feels like. He makes it so real you can taste it. Because he could never settle for anything but the best...Gene Kelly achieved the impossible...he never thought about being famous - he thought about dance on film.
Kelly was a swaggeringly virile dancer of incomparable grace and charm. He pushed the boundaries of film dancing beyond the established limits…
Los Angeles Times. February 7th 1996. Twyla Tharp
Gene Kelly is rightly credited with bringing a massive and much needed dose of vitality, masculinity and athleticism to American dance. The reason for this achievement was simple – Kelly…had the common sense to realize the plain fact that there is honor in showing work, in dropping the pretense of effortlessness. His grace as an actor also made it play, but it was his instinct that dance is work that allowed him to cheerfully locate frivolous movement in real places, such as the boatyards of Manhattan. He was at home in a world that understands physical toil…
Naïve as only dancers can be, he kept faith in the belief that popular entertainment could take spark in the high art forms of European painting and dance without becoming inaccessible or uppity. His work was warm and welcoming, never harsh. His own performance radiated a rare and appropriate modesty because he knew his place well. With time, the loafers he wore became as elegant as the finest, shiniest ballroom pumps.
Years ago it fell to me to cast Kelly's role in a revival of Singin' In The Rain, and I can report that it could not be done. There are few roles about which that could be said, but Gene Kelly had become something larger - an American hero.
A sailor suit or his white socks and loafers, or the T-shirts on his muscular torso, gave everyone the feeling that he was a regular guy, and perhaps they too could express love and joy by dancing down the street or stepping through puddles…he democratised the dance in movies.
He made boy dancers look very sexy and macho….Gene always looked to me like a baseball player that condescended to tap.
Everything he did was very earthy, very sexy, and he’d spring up like a panther, like a tiger. There was something about him that was animalistic.
He was a temperamental man, in a nice way, he wasn’t ugly with it, but he knew what he wanted and he wouldn’t settle for anything less.
Christopher Walken TCM tribute to Gene Kelly
When I was a lad starting out in show business you had to be a ‘triple threat’. When I think of a performer who fits that bill I think of Gene Kelly. He not only fitted, he defined it. The precision, skill and imagination with which he executed his craft broke boundaries and continues to influence modern dance everywhere.
To look at him he was almost like an Olympic athlete, so fit. He was grounded to the earth and utilised his entire body.
Cyd Charisse: He brought dance down to blue-collar status so that everybody could enjoy it. He was such a hard worker, such a perfectionist - and I always loved that because he got a lot out of you.
Sheridan Morley & Ruth Leon. Gene Kelly. A Celebration 1974
When Kelly dances he has moved so subtly from standing to movement to art that it looks as though anyone could do it.
People's Almanac. Book of Lists
Gene's list of ten greatest dancers
3. Isadora Duncan
5. Carlotta Grisi
6. Maria Taglioni
7. Fanny Cerito
9. John Bubbles
10. Bill Robinson
?1932 Cap & Gown Review.
Florence Fisher Parry, Pittsburgh newspaper
Throw your academic caps in the air. You have a great dancing star on your campus.
New York Times. 2nd March 1941
By the time he graduated from Pitt the school had earned a large enough surplus to finance him through a summer of work on his own dancing. “I went to Chicago, found a good teacher, and in my spare time read every book on the ballet that they had in the Chicago Public Library. Yeah, I even read the ones that were in French, and that was strictly labor because me French is just school French.”
When the Chicago teacher had advanced him in his art he came to New York, found another teacher and more books, then went back to Chicago for another polishing.
“For a while I thought that all I wanted to do was teach dancing. But before long I had done everything that I could do in my line in Pittsburgh, and I couldn’t see a life that was just more of the same.”
He came to New York and shortly caught attention as the out-of-work dancer in William Saroyan’s The Time Of Your Life.
Evening Independent. March 20th 1942
Gene Kelly, New York stage star who will appear with Judy Garland in The Big Time, recently received three trunks full of shoes, nearly two hundred pairs in all. They are the dancing shoes Kelly has worn during his career. The dancer has bought new shoes continually, ‘broken them in’ and saved them from his shows. Thus he can find a shoe of any type or color already limbered up for dancing. With the exception of Eleanor Powell, he probably owns the largest collection of show shoes in Hollywood.
Milwaukee Journal. May 7th 1944
This Gene Kelly is one of the lean, hard-muscled chaps who, like Fred Astaire and Paul Draper, have shattered the tradition that the male dancer is a flower-like fellow.
Screen Album 1944
From the neck up, Gene Kelly’s a plain-faced [!!!!!!!] joe with the rasp of Broadway in every light-voiced syllable. Below the tie-line he’s quicksilver muscle always an inch or two above solid ground. Put it on paper and the words drag like your feet and mine. You’ve got to see the fluid magic of that spirit dance in Cover Girl, the way he whirls Kerry over the living room rug, the controlled dancer’s grace of little gestures like climbing a stair-flight or leaning against a wall. When Pal Joey first came to Hollywood, they anchored his feet in straight drama. Christmas Holiday was the ultimate sin. A guy like Gene couldn’t kill a fly convincingly. Give him a dance floor and skip the tragedy. Let the body act for him, Hollywood…There are a million better-looking profiles [sorry to repeat myself, but !!!!!!! Is this writer visually challenged???] banging on Central Casting doors, but they say you gotta rub a lamp to get a Genie!
Modern Screen. August 1944
When he was dancing on Broadway and even before in his home town, Pittsburgh, his mind was ticking off dreams of things he’d like to do some day on the screen with its swell possibilities for trick effects. Gene shoots at the moon in his dreams, and for his money the highest type of dancing is to express an inner struggle by active rhythm. All great ballet dancers, Nijinsky and all the rest, have put across a mental or spiritual theme when they tied into the pinnacles of their art. It isn’t easy, even on a stage where there’s a flesh-and-blood contact between a performer and his audience. It had never been done on the screen, but Gene Kelly didn’t see why not, being a Kelly.
Pittsburgh Press. October 30th 1944. Maxine Garrison
Gene was pretty upset by a trade paper story to the effect that he has refused to dance any more in movies. In the first place, he says, it makes an actor look like a dope to imply that he tries to lay down the law to his studio. In the second place, he says, “I’d rather cut off my right arm – well, that’s not a good way to say it – but I’d hate to think of not dancing again.”
He hopes that settles that. Since his ‘Cap and Gown’ days at Pitt, and all the Kelly family dancing school days in Pittsburgh, dancing has been one of Gene’s first loves….
Keeping Up With Kelly. Photoplay magazine 1945.
He’ll take nothing less than perfection in his dancing and works constantly at dreaming up dance routines that on paper look like combined military operations. You could always find Gene still going strong at three and four a.m…setting the timing, mechanics and pantomime. Nothing he does surprises Betsy any more. She became used to seeing him sitting there in a trance, thinking something out, then suddenly taking off like a streamliner over the furniture around the room.
Chicago Tribune. September 23rd 1945
You may have thought that brawn and dancing ability don’t mix, but take a gander at Gene Kelly – he’s strictly on the rugged side….
Theatre Arts 1945
Creating and performing film dances is the place where Gene Kelly shines brightest. This involves no narrow range of activities, however. For screen dance as he sees it entails much more than the unadorned procedure of adding gestures together in front of a camera. It requires a knowledge of the workings and limitations of the camera itself; a musical comprehension that can speak to composers in terms of rhythm and instrumentation and melodic line; a dramatic sense that can conceive and lay out the motivation for a dance so that it does not appear – as screen dances do all too frequently – like some irrelevant appliqué on the pattern of the story.
Theatre Arts. October 1945
Gene Kelly’s dancing… confirms his position as one of the leading film dancers and choreographers of his day.
The role of choreographer is perhaps the more important of the two; for film dance design is still back in the middle-ages…whereas talented dancers…are fairly easy to find…movie dancing still tends to be nothing more than a lavish and banal restatement of stage patterns in front of a camera. There is no indication that dance can stem at least partly out of the function of the camera itself…
Kelly has turned a fresh eye on the medium. His dance with his own shadow in Cover Girl made use of camera trickery, but made it more than merely a feat of magic, deriving from it a freedom of action and design that broadened the dancer’s scope immeasurably. Now in Anchors Aweigh he goes one step further and, in a delightfully devised and beautifully executed dance with an animated mouse, he demonstrates what taste and inventiveness can do with a technique that Walt Disney developed and put to such unfortunate account only six months ago. The progress from Three Caballeros to Anchors Aweigh is not merely a measure of time elapsed, It is also an indication of the light that an active imagination can always turn on established forms.
Seventeen magazine. September 1946
If you saw Gene walking down Main Street you would not be likely to say, “There goes a dancer.” He has a compact, purposeful walk with long, vigorous strides. You might think him a cop – genial and tough, with Ireland in his grin. But start him talking about the dance and he soon illustrates remarks with a tap or a gesture that leaves no doubt - here’s a dancer….
John Martin. Dance critic of the New York Times. 1946 An approach all his own is that of Gene Kelly, who may very well be the most important figure on the Hollywood dance scene at the moment. Not only has he a lively imagination as a dancer and as a creator of dances, but he is also keenly aware of the camera's unique possibilities, which most dancers are not... Nobody else in Hollywood has come so near to pure medium of cinema dance, and since what he does is not in the least arty, in spite of the fact that it is deliberate aesthetic pioneering, there would seem to be no limit to the establishment of his future experimentation along the same lines.
John Martin. Dance critic of the New York Times. 1946
An approach all his own is that of Gene Kelly, who may very well be the most important figure on the Hollywood dance scene at the moment. Not only has he a lively imagination as a dancer and as a creator of dances, but he is also keenly aware of the camera's unique possibilities, which most dancers are not...
Nobody else in Hollywood has come so near to pure medium of cinema dance, and since what he does is not in the least arty, in spite of the fact that it is deliberate aesthetic pioneering, there would seem to be no limit to the establishment of his future experimentation along the same lines.
The Miami News. 6th November 1946
Choreography in the cinema was the subject of an address to 200 UCLA dance students given by Dr. Gene Kelly, professor of Terpsichore at MGM. The learned lecturer supported his arguments by citing such old masters as Keats, Goldsmith, Shakespeare, Stanislavsky and Sinatra.’
“Dancing is primarily a man’s art” was one of the theories propounded by Prof. Kelly, experienced as a dance instructor, brick layer and concrete mixer.
“Any dance step you girls can do,” he told the predominantly feminine audience, “I can do stronger. Because I am stronger. Therefore the male can excel in the dance art.”
The professor deplored the fact that most men associate serious dancing with aesthetic groups, and says he tries to offset this opinion by making his cinema routines as virile as possible.
Evening Independent. 13th March 1947
Yep, Spring is just around the corner, and Gene Kelly says you’d better get in shape for it. Get rid of that paunch, admonishes the dancing master, and he’s got just the formula for it.
Instead of the usual pre-breakfast push-ups and knee-bends, Gene advises us to pirouette before prunes, tap before toast. He says a fast 10-minute dance routine, including some high kicks and a few twirls, will do wonders toward flattening your stomach, “and think of the fun you’d have.” Sounds like a good idea; I’m starting next month.
Silver Screen. April 1947
Since his mind is as nimble as his feet, Gene finds inspiration for his choreography in the oddest places…and he never stops looking. Buster Keaton…stopped at the lunch table to chat with Gene.
“Buster, I still remember some of your comedies I saw when I was a kid in Pittsburgh. They had a lot of freshness and novelty that we’ve forgotten today,” Gene told him. “Do you suppose I could run some of them some day? I might find some ideas in them.”
Keaton assured Kelly he’s be glad to have some of them screened. There were no dances in them, mind you, but Gene never finds ideas for his routines in other dances.
Living In A Big Way. Pressbook. 1947
Anyone who claims a dancer isn’t an actor must answer to Gene Kelly…
According to Kelly, his hardest work as an actor comes in his dancing. One of his most famous routines, the “alter ego” dance from Cover Girl, called for him to portray himself and his conception of his subconscious personality. In his duo with tiny Sharon McManus for Anchors Aweigh, he had to be a pantomimist. Neither Gene nor Sharon spoke or sang, but told their story with feet, hands, gestures and facial expression.
“Know what I did to prepare for that dance?” inquires Kelly. “I ran reel after reel of Charlie Chaplin’s old pictures! Thought if I couldn’t get a tip from the top pantomime artist of all time, I was dancing with my feet not my head.”
Even in the Navy Kelly wasn’t safe from his ‘dancing’ mind.
“I’d see a bunch of gobs in formation and try to visualise a dance pattern from it. Washington traffic and parades would bring another picture to mind. But it was at home with my daughter Kerry that I thought about dancing with a mouse,” he says. “Her toy rubber mouse had my mind working, my feet tapping – it intrigued me as much as it did her.”
Screen Guide July 1947
Kelly is a serious student of his art. He has read a wide variety of books on the dance and originates his own routines. He also directs them since there is no man in Hollywood more qualified to do so…According to dance critics, Gene’s foremost attribute is his imagination. He can dream up ideas which, expressed in terms of the dance, hold great insight and entertainment value.
Movie Stars Parade. July 1947 Tap Happy.
You don’t read Gene Kelly’s palm to know the story of his life; you poke deep into musty corners of a closet and you find the tale in twenty pairs of dancing shoes. Sandals, acrobatic, clog, soft shoe, tap and ballet shoes, all of them thin, glove-like, and under the gathering dust; a brilliant array of colors. Some of them almost new, some battered and creased, one with a missing heel, and every one with a story – the story of the nimblest pair of feet in Hollywood, the story of the quick-tongued, fast-moving Irishman, Gene Kelly.
Modern Screen July 1947
His touch in all the art forms connected with dancing is deft, and as a choreographer, he is little short of a genius. Unlike other artists, he doesn’t have a studio or a canvas or a piano; his office is in his head, and he spends silent hours working out his dances in introspect. Once in a while he does use mirrors to get the effect of line…Sometimes the steps he designs are divine when viewed head-on; and then the director will decide to shoot a portion of the scene from overhead or along a line of legs; whereupon, Gene will have to revise them. To the tune of hours’ more work.
Incredibly, dancing and all its difficult ramifications are for Gene the sheerest fun. There’s an exhilaration to his work that can’t be put into words, that only another dancer could understand. In addition to this exhilaration, he feels that dancing gives a person a certain animal grace which is a great social asset if, says Gene, you care about social assets. He stresses the importance of avoiding overtraining….Not that some training isn’t advisable. Gene does a great deal of swimming, which is excellent for dancing, and very little walking, which slows you down because you land on your heels, pulling the back leg muscles. He eats more or less what he wants, but has stopped smoking since his discharge from the Navy
Deseret News. September 20th 1947
Hardest working people in Hollywood…are the dancing stars, like…Gene Kelly. This correspondent ran into him the other day as he was leaving the studio after a hard day’s rehearsal for his final routine in The Pirate. “You really have to work hard, don’t you,” I said. “Sometimes I wonder,” Gene answered, “why I didn’t become a bus driver.”
Movie Teen. October 1947
The inexhaustible imagination and originality which Gene brings to his dancing…will keep him always unique among the dance-man stars.
Light as a breeze and graceful as a falling leaf, Gene has danced his way to the top,
Newspaper article, 1947, source unknown
Hoofer With A Heart. By Jack Sher and John Keating
...”I taught all ages, from four to sixty. But the kids were the most fun. They weren't cluttered up with a lot of bookish theory. Their response was purely emotional, which is what dancing is. If you want intellectual response from watching a dancer, you might as well stay home and read a book.”
Kelly's first picture, once he got out of the Navy, was Living In A Big Way. The way he talks about his own dancing in it brings shudders to the people whose job it is to glamorize him.
“I was a better dancer when I first came to Broadway than I am now. I was younger, that's why. A dancer is like a prizefighter. He gets superannuated pretty early; can't take it so well in his thirties.”
Kelly gets many of his best ideas for dancing from watching the screen work of the late Douglas Fairbanks Sr. “Doug never made an ungraceful move,” he says admiringly.
That Old Black Magic
You’ve heard of those genii who come out of the blue when you rub a magic lamp, haven’t you? They transform the world into a fairyland where all that was meant to be comes true.
There are a lot of people who feel that magic in Gene Kelly. Perhaps this is because there is an effortless quality to his dancing that takes you out of this world into another. In the darkened theatre, you are happily lost for a while, away from problems and trials. It is this quality in Gene Kelly’s dancing that has kept the public clamouring for more. And yet, in all fairness to him, he shouldn’t be kept tripping the light fantastic forever. He’s too good an actor.
Movie Fan April-June 1948
It’s a sad day for the nation when anything happens to Gene Kelly’s dancing feet. Ever since he burst upon the scene…Gene’s gay terpsichorean antics have lightened this sad world for the countless millions…the sparkling humor, the incredible grace and the uncanny originality with which Gene moves his feet are not all that make him one of the best loved stars in Hollywood. He is a magnificent dramatic actor as well as comedian and hoofer…
Screen Guide July 1948
Acrobatics remain just stunts for some dancers. Kelly makes them part of the rhythmic pattern.
Liberty magazine. September 1948
People started calling Gene The Feet after he appeared on a Bob Hope broadcast. “And now, ladies and gentlemen”, announced Hope, “you have heard of The Voice, The Body, and The Nose. Tonight we have as our guest The Feet – the Gregory Peck of the dancing shoes.
"...When Gene Kelly dances, Fred Astaire counts his money."
May 1949. Newspaper clipping source unknown
Nine hundred and fifty students and teachers of George Pepperdine College thronged the campus auditorium to hear film star Gene Kelly lecture on the educational, physical and historic aspects of dancing recently.
Kelly screened excerpts of dancing from some of his MGM films to illustrate many of his points.
In stressing the necessity of strength, grace and vitality in all forms of dancing, Kelly traced the background of the modern dance to the primitive age of man...
Kelly outlined various approaches to different problems in teaching dancing or any athletic endeavor, and in response to specific questions drew from his personal experience with blind, deaf and otherwise handicapped students by way of example.
Picturegoer. July 9th 1949
He has been known to work as many as four successive days on just a couple of leaps, and preparation of the numbers for his films often takes as long as two months working out.
He has never been content to rely on experience alone. Every routine is the result of sheer hard work…
Maybe you can appreciate now why Gene Kelly has made the grade. It’s not just personality, or dancing ability, or acting
capability. Determination and hard work have done it for him.
MGM Pressbook. Summer Stock . 1950.
The next dance to take over as No. 1 on the nimble-foot parade will be the old-fashioned waltz.
Authority for the statement is none other than expert Gene Kelly…
“If you’ve joined the current craze for the Charleston,” says Kelly, “you can start forgetting it. It isn’t going to last long. On the other hand, if you’ve taken up such old-timers as the waltz or the square dance, keep right on with it. They’re both here to stay.. As for B-Bop – sit this one out. It’s undanceable.”
…for the best line of future dance styles he advises following music trends.
“A few years ago, music groups came north from Mexico and South America and before we knew it we were all doing the rumba and samba. We liked their music so we had to learn how to dance it. If we could be sure what music would make the biggest hit five years from now we would know what type of dancing we will be doing then.”
Saturday Evening Post. July 1950
Back home in Pittsburgh, in addition to his studio work, he was beginning to take private pupils and to stage a few University of Pittsburgh Cap and Gown shows, as well as some for the Junior League. He had a burning desire to put on better shows than the leaguers had previously produced. The leaguers had been settling for a ‘heel and toe and away we go’ sort of thing. Their dancing teachers had made them perspire delicately. Gene made them sweat...
The Gene Kelly of today is a long holler from the young dancing master of the same name who attended the sessions of the Chicago National Association of Dancing Masters back in 1933.
With his brother Fred, they had gone West with barely enough ready scratch in their pockets to stake them for two weeks. But when the C.N.A.D.M. instructors showed them how to do Nijinsky-like things with their feet, legs and bodies – things they hadn’t known could be done – it so fevered them with excitement that they stretched their stay longer…they kept themselves more or less solvent by patching together a baggy-pants-and-putty-nose type song-dance-and-comedy routine and booking themselves into a series of flea-bag bistros.
...Kelly’s stamina is well nigh limitless. A ferocious worker, he polishes his dance routines with rehearsals that last for five or six hours at a stretch and leave his pianists begging for mercy. He warms up for these practice marathons by doing sixty push-ups in sixty seconds or by lying prone and lifting himself from the floor, using only his toes and his finger tips as elevators.
An American In Paris Pressbook
Gene Kelly has won another honour in the field of dancing. He has been selected to be one authority on the dance in a section dealing with that subject in an ambitious new book sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Picture Post. 16th April 1952
For Kelly, telling a story means dancing it, or most of it. And, as he says himself, every dance must tell a story. That is what gives his pictures distinction. His dances have point, they belong to the plot and carry it forward. They are not inserted as interludes.
New York Times. September 14th 1952
Stephen Watts. London. Gene Kelly supervises Invitation To The Dance at England's Boreham Wood.
...An impressed colleague saw Kelly, one evening, approach the steps to his dressing room apparently deep in serious thought, but as he reached the steps he paused and extemporized a neat little routine on them before going up.
Screen Album. Summer 1952
Betsy: He never stops thinking about dance. Even when he’s shaving. It used to startle me when I’d suddenly hear something that sounded as though the whole medicine chest had crashed to the floor and then Gene would emerge triumphant with a brand new choreography and his face half lathered.
Dance and Dancers November 1952
In all the musical films with which Kelly has been connected either as a dancer or a dance producer, it can be said that he has fully understood the medium. He has realised that the camera has many advantages over the stage and that trick shots and unusual camera angles can enhance the dance rather than hinder it...
Underneath it all, he remains a fine dancer who would be an asset to any ballet company. He has shown in many films that he has a strong classical technique, as well as being a good partner.
People might wonder why, if he is such a good dancer, he should not be working with a ballet company. The answer surely is that he is doing a far better job where he is. To bring good dancing to millions of people who might otherwise have never given it a thought, is to create even larger audiences for ballet in the theatre.
His plans for the future include bringing more and more ballet personalities into the cinema.
Picturegoer August 1953
At last it's happened. I've actually met the screen player who believes in 3-D.
From Gene Kelly I got the impression that perhaps after all the extra film dimension may become the crafts men's delight as well as the exhibitor's darling..
Muffled and sweating in a seaman's pullover, for Crest Of The Wave, Kelly rolled a tissue handkerchief into balls and enthused.
“It's what I've been waiting for. From my point of view it will give the screen what it has always lacked, the depth, the illusion of live dancing on the stage. It will bring the ballet closer to the public.
“Ballet on the screen has always been a poor substitute for ballet on the stage. It has to be.”
Surprising? Surely Kelly, who has done more than any man to raise the level of the film musical, would agree that the screen gives something of its own to the dance?
“No. Not a thing.
“Eventually though, I want to make a full-length story told only in mime and ballet. At the studio they say, 'Why do you want to make a dance film without words? You're crazy.'”
Look Magazine 1953. He has been known to be silent for seven days at a stretch when absorbed in one dance movement. But, on rare occasions, when, “faithful to his Irish past”, he will go on a three day holiday with old cronies – “talking, joking and drinking beer with salt in it”.
Photoplay Peter Hammond, October 1953
“It goes like this,” said Gene Kelly as he tapped a few steps across the floor.
I had asked him a question about the dance sequences in his film Invitation To The Dance which he’s just completed.
“It’s easy, try it,” said Gene with a broad grin, “one foot across the other, twist and…”
His face glowed with enthusiasm at the mention of dancing and his feet tapped.
That is the sort of thing you have to expect when you talk to Kelly. For dancing is his natural means of expression
Movieland 1954. Busy, Busy, Busy.
…According to Gene, a dance routine begins in the head not the feet!
And it’s a pretty well-known fact that Gene Kelly’s head is as nimble as his feet. “Ideas,” says Gene, “can come from anywhere. From listening to music, looking at a painting, one can come while you’re driving the car, or sitting on the floor.”
Motion Picture May 1954
Kelly has no great taste for dancing, ballroom variety, in public, and when he does venture onto the floor, he is sedate and unimaginative. He does, on the other hand, caper considerably while walking or waiting for elevators, and now and then a real solid choreographic lick is worked out in someone’s ante room.
Silver Screen June 1954
The most remarkable thing about Gene is his out-and-out determination to do everything perfectly. He is a tireless taskmaster, and yet he never overworks his co-star. If he sees a girl is getting tired he will stop rehearsing and go into another phase of the production. But he drives himself mercilessly.
He has two dance assistants – Carole Haney and Jeanne Coyne. He talks over the ideas for dances in his office with them and then they work out the steps. Sometimes one of the girls will act as his partner, another time she will be part of a chorus. When the routine is in good shape he’ll start working with his co-starring actress. He shows her what he has in mind – and then the rehearsals begin. Usually they’ll rehearse five or six weeks before the picture begins, averaging about a week to each number.
In addition to doing all the choreography for his dances he originates the routines for his partner’s dances – and spends as much, if not more, time on her numbers as he does on his own…He is a man of inexhaustible talents.
Indianapolis Star. October 14th 1959
Gene Kelly, tired of Kruschev's boast that Russian ballet is the world's best, says the Red leader doesn't know what he's talking about.
“I've been watching the Ballet for years and it's very old hat, and I don't think Kruschev knows as much about dancing as as some of us think...They're behind us in the Dance. Our New York City Ballet is the best in the world.
Gene Kelly, a dancing legend in his own lifetime. Think of him as you will…in any of [his dancing] roles, and the image is essentially the same: someone in direct communication with the joys of life. A true blithe spirit...
In the sense that Fred Astaire is a sophisticated dancer, a refined personality, Kelly is an innocent one: a lyric innocent, to be precise, and he brought to his dances a wonderful uncluttered sense of simple vitality: there was nothing extraneous or ostentatious about his dancing. He danced simply but fully: there was no holding back or holding down; no repression. Everything was given. It was this sense of burning bright enthusiasm, of high spirits done in high style, which made his work so exciting to watch...
He is essentially a mood dancer, expressing in physical movement a definite, often highly personal, attitude towards people, a situation, a life itself...
No mere pretender was Kelly, playing with happiness. Rather he WAS happy, often to the extent of appearing fully flushed. A most joyous, most happy dancing fella! A filmic Puck. A modern-day Pan. Full of dancing life force, and most contagious in his exuberance and merriment.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. February 21st 1967
Hoe does the inventive Kelly feel about the current popular dance world? “It’s atavistic,” he replied. “Never in the history of mankind have people been so permeated with luxury. And in the midst of opulence we’re dancing like savages. I can only comment on it, sociologists might go further.”
Time Magazine. August 1967
Kelly deplores the common U.S. image of the dancer as a mincing she-man. When he first began dancing in nightclubs in the Pittsburgh area, ringside drunks would snigger “Hello, honey.” One night he slugged one of the loudmouths and hotfooted it to Manhattan.
Peter Evans, Interview during the making of Hello! Dolly
"Kelly", said a chorus boy in 'Hello Dolly', "Smashed the system. He wasn’t a skinny, elegant, long legged hero. Men could identify with him, women considered him obtainable."
Nova Magazine. July 1972
I asked him what made him become a dancer. He took the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger, furrowed his brow, then gazed meaningfully out across his Beverley Hills lawn as if the ghost of old Diaghilev were tapping his silver cane on the window glass and cautioning him to answer carefully.
“I found,” he said finally, lowering his light voice to a more reverent timbre, “It was a pretty good way of getting girls.”
Leslie Caron. The Magic Factory. Donald Knox 1973
Gene was very clever as a choreographer. He would find out what the best points of a dancer were and make up a ballet around that. I was very weak and anaemic, but Gene was my defender.
Dallas Times Herald. June 1974 In a certain way Kelly did for dance at that time what Elvis Presley was to do later for popular music. Kelly fused together a number of diverse styles that exploded in a bold new manner. He drew upon the whimsy of tap, the showmanship of the eccentric dancer, the free form of Martha Graham, his own skills as a gymnast and organized all of it with legitimate classical disciplines. The bristling package of rhythm and style hit the dance world with a fallout that is still being felt.
Dallas Times Herald. June 1974
In a certain way Kelly did for dance at that time what Elvis Presley was to do later for popular music. Kelly fused together a number of diverse styles that exploded in a bold new manner. He drew upon the whimsy of tap, the showmanship of the eccentric dancer, the free form of Martha Graham, his own skills as a gymnast and organized all of it with legitimate classical disciplines. The bristling package of rhythm and style hit the dance world with a fallout that is still being felt.
TV &Movie Screen. August 1975
When the name of Gene Kelly is mentioned, you don’t get a vision of a serious dramatic actor. One’s immediate image is that of a wondrous performer out on the floor doing amazing, acrobatic things, or some highly innovative ones such as his classic Singin’ In The Rain number which will live as long as film does.
What was the Kelly secret? “There was no secret, I’ve always thought that dancing should be a joy, and should bring happiness and laughter. I always tried just to do that.
Richard Dyer Social Values of Entertainment & Show Business Volume 2. 1976
The modern dance approach gives the dancing a strength and physical
presence and sense of effort and strain, which express masculine activity
and power, and Kelly’s own body, with big thighs and shaped torso, is a
paradigm of muscular virility...
His dedication as performer, choreographer and director leads to a striving
for effect, a desire to be more ‘meaningful’ and ‘serious’ and ‘artistically important’.
Where he has a hand in the choreography direction himself, he tends to depart
from the life assertive, optimistic, entertaining modes of dance expression
endemic to the musical and develop dance as a means of expressing conflict,
anxiety, stress and mood.
Film Buff. February 1976. Barbara Wolf. The Art Of Gene Kelly.
Kelly found [For Me & My Gal] painful to see, for his dancing seemed without vitality. The realisation that dance created for the stage was wrong for film started him pondering the whole question of the contrasts between the two and three dimensional space. He became an avid film student and began to experiment, to test the effects of different kinds of movement on the viewer. He gradually developed a staff to assist him, most notably Stanley Donen…whose originality of mind had greatly impressed Kelly; and Jeannie Coyne, his prize pupil back in Pittsburgh from her childhood…Kelly, with their help, gradually evolved an aesthetic of screen dancing based on the unique suitability of film for stylisation and fantasy…Cover Girl elated him, and when the public accepted it too, he discovered in himself a passion to subdue film to his choreographic ideas…
When he returned from the service in 1946, he had become a man in a hurry. He had lost many dancing years to his late start and now more time to the war. He looked far younger than his 34 years and was as tireless as ever. But the fulfilment of his new ambition, to direct, choreograph and perform in the extremely strenuous works he now had in mind, depended on a level of stamina and physical finetuning which a dancer of his age could not realistically expect to maintain for long.
Luckily, Arthur Freed…sympathised entirely and worked closely with Kelly to develop promising material…
He went about educating his public, as he had once taught his students, one thing at a time. In Words and Music, he performed a sombre jazz ballet…Public and critics liked it. Next, Take Me Out To The Ball Game, featured a baseball ballet combining classical technique with comedic acrobatics. When the public accepted that too, Kelly felt his thesis was established: he had brought screen dancing out of its isolation and gotten it accepted as story-telling and characterization as well as pure form...
Dancing seems always to have been the key factor in Kelly’s career. His scramble after singing, diction and acting lessons, when he learned he was being considered for Pal Joey, indicates that he had never seriously anticipated needing those skills. His crash-course in self-education about film suggests a similar lack of previous concern. The mastery he soon acquired of those arts was devoted mainly to the enhancements of his dances. Without that purpose, the use of those skills did not arouse quite the passion needed for a completely successful artistic career.
His late start indicates that either some interior check was holding him back, or that fame as such was far less compelling to him than to most performers. And after the passing of the musical era, while other former stars kept themselves before the public at any cost, on TV game shows or commercials or before inattentive night club audiences, Kelly kept remarkably aloof. It seems plain that, at his height, he had labored so hard primarily for his joy in the work itself, to create and record his dances. The range of his abilities seemed such that he could have gone on from dancing to other triumphs, but apparently the only instrument to inspire him sufficiently was his own body. Fortunately the great age of the dance musical, so much his own creation, lasted just long enough for Kelly to make his record of that extraordinary instrument in use, at the height of his powers, projecting that appearance of blissful ease which is the mark of all true art performed for its own sake.
Dance magazine. July 1976
Norma McLain Stoop
With his exuberant and skilful mingling of tap and ballet, and the originality he demonstrated in his determined efforts to mate choreography and celluloid in a workable marriage, Kelly added a new excitement both to dance and to musical movies…
Such a history of dance achievement doesn’t just come naturally! Kelly would be the first to proclaim the importance of dancing lessons…But no matter how good the school, no matter how good the teacher, there are some things no dancer can learn in class – how to partner a mop, for instance, or how to teach a cartoon mouse to dance! But that didn’t stop Kelly.
…He thought up and did the mop dance…a number that stole the show. More importantly, though, it made other movie choreographers understand that, on screen, dance can be liberated from its stage boundaries to become a new art form…
…”The great thing that pleases me is that now, the classicists have begun to see how much popular dance has to offer…but for years I used to yell at them; I used to have to beat their ears. It was in 1960 that I did a ballet for the Paris Opera, which I couldn’t do here. There wasn’t that much interest. Yet, when the Russians would come here, they’d say to me, ‘Could you come and show us some of these things?’
…But now, you can see Baryshnikov doing Twyla Tharp!”… …Gene Kelly tried to make dance relevant to character and plot, and thus, enriched the genre. Although he may insist that dance and film don’t really gel together, the energy and élan that he brought to American musical films…have left a legacy of innovation that…changed the outlook of motion pictures.
John Springer. All Talking All Singing All Dancing. 1976
As Kelly progressed in screen stature, he brought new thrill to movie dancing. He was versatile; original - his dance numbers...were consistently fresh and unhackneyed; individual - his style was all his, hard-driving, athletic, acrobatic. You could never mistake Gene Kelly's dancing for that of anyone else.
Current Biography. February 1977
Depsite the reasonably good noticed he received as a dramatic actor, Kelly lost several substantial roles because of his growing reputation as a dancer. "When you're a dancer, it's like having Campbell's Soup stencilled across your chest", he complained to Bob Larding in an interview for the New York Sunday News (May 2, 1976). "Everyone takes it for granted that you're a dancer and nothing more."
New York Times 1979
Mr Kelly learned to choreograph his musical numbers to be cut and edited without disturbing his audience’s sense of motion and involvement. He structured his dances so the movement came towards the camera, to give them kinetic physical force. By placing vertical props on the stage for panning shots, he could increase the feeling of movement. Most of all though, he tried to find ways of expressing character and resolving thematic or plot issues within his dances.
Saturday Evening Post 1980
"The style of dancing I did originated with me. It's my own. I hadn't seen it before and I haven't seen it since. Now that doesn't mean that everybody prefers my style of dance, which is wide open bravura, or that it's the best. But no one, at least, can say that it isn't my own creation. Whether it's good or bad is not for me to say. But it's mine. No one can ever take it away from me."
And no one would try. That style, that verve, that originality - they're all part of the Kelly magic.
St. Anthony Messenger. August 1980
Jack Wintz. O.F.M.
Because Kelly no longer has the strength to perform his spectacular dances of the past, he has little interest in doing easire numbers. “Once you've swum a strong river, you can't get very excited about walking through a puddle.”
Ocala Star Banner. August 1st 1984
Gene Kelly says he likes break-dancing because it’s spontaneous…”The athleticism is inherent in it.”
St Petersburg Times. August 4th 1984
“I wanted to take off my shirt and get comfortable,” Kelly says, with a typically Irish grin. "I thought it was possible to have ordinary people dance and sing. It was a good break to put on Army and Navy uniforms…It worked for me"…
…What Kelly made up entranced audiences around the world. He created a kinetic, unabashed and breezy and breathtakingly acrobatic dance style that was ruthlessly efficient in its use of the screen.
“I cared about dance,” Kelly said simply. “My whole premise was to be well-rehearsed. If I played a truck driver, which is the kind of role I got, I had to move like a truck driver. But are truck drivers graceful? That was my entire credo – I had to dance the characters.”
On the opening of the Johnstown school:
Not only was he giving lessons in tap dancing, which they all wanted at first, but he took a shot at ballet. Just why he wasn’t garrotted when he first started that is not immediately apparent, but in no time at all he had pupils from coal-mining towns like Portage and Lilly leaping gaily through the air like Nijinsky.
Jeanine Basinger. American Film March 85
In the Murphy’s chowder of film dance – tap, ballet, buck-and-wing, clog, soft-shoe, modern jazz, and just plain cheesecake – Gene Kelly is the man who threw in the overalls. He made dance accessible by presenting it in the everyday world, on city streets and sidewalks, on the slopes of heathered hills, and up and down the naked frames of houses under construction….He made dance seem possible, even probable, so that a generation spent years fully expecting someone like him to come dancing down the street armed only with a grin and an umbrella against misfortune, inclemency and the inevitable constabulary. Kelly was a proletariat dancing force that said anyone could do it. And should…
Before Kelly, whenever a dance number came along…it had somehow seemed extraordinary. There was a self-conscious quality to it, from the ‘here it comes’ opening music on through the ‘ta-da’ finale….Viewers understood that the magic folk up there were dancing for them because, being merely mortal, they couldn’t do it themselves. When movie stars danced, they let people see what joy it was, which wasn’t the same thing as making them participate in the dance. Kelly changed that….
He began to experiment with ways to bring the audience into the dance as a participant via the moving camera…the audience could experience the sensation of dance itself. They felt the dance as movement, and thus became not just viewers of dance, but dancers..
Kelly’s choreography was created not only with the camera in mind, but also editing. Numbers were designed to be cut without disturbing the viewer’s sense of motion and involvement. Kelly made dance fully cinematic and separated it from the stage.. He captured the kinetic force of the flesh-and-blood dancer in the image of the film. The long-range result was that people in the audience not only wanted to dance, but felt they could. …In many ways, Gene Kelly is the father of today’s dance explosion.
American Film Institute Tribute Booklet 1985
As a choreographer Kelly was a true cinematic innovator. From the beginning of his career he wanted to do more than just dance. He wanted to create dance numbers in which the dancer did with his body what the actor did with words. He strove to devise a cinematic language of dance which replaced dialogue and even lyrics and told the audience what the character felt, thought, was.
Yves Montand. AFI booklet:
Gene will always be our American in Paris and much more. He put dance on the street. He is in the people’s hearts everywhere – an American for the whole world...
Mikhail Baryshnikov AFI 1985 booklet:
Every dance Gene Kelly did on screen had a special. ..sense of occasion. No dancer has ever had his kind of dramatic range which easily encompasses many emotions – from radiance and sheer love of dancing to deep romance and poignancy.
Jeanine Basinger AFI booklet 1985:
Audiences…danced down the street, taking their joy with them. It could be theirs forever…against that little bit of rain that into each of their lives would fall.
David Parkinson. Sight & Sound January 1993
‘Kelly’s fundamental motivation was his screen- dance mandate and commitment
to galvanizing the musical. His assault on the conventions of the classical Hollywood
narrative was born out of necessity- they were in the way.’
He didn't like tapping in white tie and tails, preferring a soft, beat-up fedora to a top-hat, and few Bakelite floors ever saw his scuff marks. Instead, Gene Kelly danced atop a flatbed truck, in a rain-soaked gutter, up a stepladder, down a hillside, on roller-skates and everywhere in Paris you wished you'd been kissed.
MGM provided him with beautiful partners...But he was just as happy being paired with brooms, curtains, umbrellas, newspapers, baseball bats, kids and rodents. His buoyant athleticism, naive passion and look-ma-I'm-hoofing brand of enthusiasm introduced cinematic dance to sweat, lust and earthly delights. Gene Kelly made everyone believe he could dance, and Every woman wish that he would. What did Kelly have up his sleeve to inspire such leaps of faith? Actually it was his sleeve - usually rolled up past the elbow. Dazzling as the footwork was, Kelly was equally adept at not looking or dressing like a dancer...and because he always looked so comfortable without ever seeming out of place, he gave bare-armed masculinity both elegance and grace.
So, when it wasn't a costume picture, and he wasn't in uniform - "The Navy made the best dance costume ever," he says. "The proportions, the fit were perfect" - Kelly sought "unfussy shapes that didn't get in the way or break up the line of the body," like gabardine pants, knit vests and full-cut shirts with spread collars. (The latter resulted in Kelly's collaborating with the MGM wardrobe department on V-neck T-shirts, as well as a body shirt to keep his tails from flying out when he lifted his co-stars.)...
Not surprisingly, many of Kelly's most enduring trademarks - loafers with white socks, V-neck sweaters tucked into double-pleated pants, the sack suit and floppy hat - came from his own closet.
"They're what I've always favored," he says in recalling what he wore in Singin' In The Rain, An American In Paris and Cover Girl.
"White socks are clean and they focus the eye on the feet. Moccasins are cut to show the white socks. You tuck a sweater in so you can see the body move. Astaire and I always washed our hats and then trimmed the brims off so that we didn't look like gangsters because we didn't play gangsters. But we did like hats. They're a dancer's best prop."
In an interview to the Los Angeles Times in 1994, Kelly talked about his affinity for his leading ladies. "You must make the lady look good," he said. "If she looks good I think the dance will look good".
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service 2/2/96
…It is unfair to pigeonhole Kelly because if anything his genius of making it all look so easy, and especially so smooth, was what made him a dancer’s dancer. He could do just about anything.
Yes, there is that splashing…number in Singin’ In The Rain, an indelible moment in Kelly’s career and in the history of dance in movies. But remember, too, the sexy, riveting dream ballet later in the same movie, a sizzling duet with Cyd Charisse. Kelly oozed sensuality, sexiness.
He was not a wimpy, skinny dancer; he was a big-chested, muscular man whose physique belied the polish and flow with which he danced. Kelly had the raw power of a street performer and the controlled grace of a ballet dancer – and it made for a powerful combo….
Like other Broadway dancers, he kept his knees bent deeply giving him a weighted quality. But his torso had the ballet dancer’s ‘pulled up’ stance. And, as is crucial in a classical dance, his body, legs and arms moved in together, in-a-piece. He was not a hoofer with arms sort of stuck out like a scarecrow’s…
He seemed to have a specific connection to the dance form that other movie dancers did not. He was the first American to create a ballet for the Paris Opera Ballet. When San Fransisco Ballet, the oldest ballet company in the United States, celebrated its 50th anniversary, they chose Kelly to be the master of ceremonies.
He probably did more for dance as a movie star than he ever could have done as a dancer on the concert stage. Kelly introduced millions of movie-goers to the joys of pure dance. He just wrapped it up in a wonderfully entertaining package.
New York Times 11th February 1996. Anna Kisselgoff.
Gene Kelly was not a hoofer. His genius as a dancer, for all its common-man bravura, borrowed from more than a single tradition. His view of dance was ecumenical, making impossible any narrow definition of his own gifts as performer, choreographer and director...
No one needs to be told that Kelly was a terrific dancer. Yet typically even the solo which he performed to the title song of the 1952 film Singin' In The Rain, was more than what it seemed. Amid all the vernacular touches - loping, leaping, flat-footed splashing - and creative tapping, Kelly found time to spring sideways in the ballet steps known as pas de chat....His ballet training was as important to him as his tap lessons....He could also use ballet in disguise. In the 1945 Anchors Aweigh, he executed turns a la seconde with Jerry, the animated mouse, perched on his extended leg...
What was striking about Kelly was that he never lost touch with the dance world at large and followed its trends closely...
At one time, Kelly claimed he wanted to come across as a truck driver. As such, he persuaded us that even truck drivers could dance.
Los Angeles Times. February 5th 1996. Charles Champlin
For earthbound males, who did not know a pas de seul from a fillet of sole, the implicit appeal of the dancing was that it could be seen as an act of courtship. Kelly himself used to joke that he became a dancer because you got to hold the girl…for their part, the girls would have given almost anything for a once round the floor with Gene Kelly.
He made it look so easy, so spontaneous.
Entertainment Weekly. February 1996.
To watch the compact Kelly glide across the screen in a T-shirt and loafers is to see the fusion of classical ballet’s rigor with the casual abandon of American Pop. Kelly was never a show-off, performing gymnastic feats gratuitously; his muscular style was always tied to his regular-guy roles. He took his work, but never himself, seriously.
Hollywood Greats. 2001
‘His goal was dancing for everybody and relating it to real life- working situations,
Kerry Kelly Novick, Ann Arbor 2002.
His ability to maintain the leading-man role while still dancing "has to do with his particular style of dance and his own personality. The style was athletic and that made it masculine. And also that it was unabashedly sexy."
Cyd Charisse Kelly Girls. TV guide 2002
Any dancer when asked to dance with Gene Kelly would just faint right on the ground. That’s how wonderful he was.
Debbie Reynolds Kelly Girls
I think Gene was like his dances, all different and all great.
Dancer From The Dance: Gene Kelly, television, and the beauty of movement. Velvet Light Trap, Spring 2002
For Kelly, masculine beauty of movement was ultimately achievable through a strategic and theoretical choreography that combined camera movement, corporeal gesture, and a functional mise-en-scene. The thesis further underscores the way in which the image of Gene Kelly as a popular masculine dancer and American artist is made available.
...For Kelly, an intricate and strategic use of the technology of the industrial arts was needed so that men no longer confused beauty of movement with effeminacy of movement. A good deal of his inner masculine beauty necessarily needed to be projected onto the screen to confirm its masculine essence.
Empire Magazine. 2003
Astounding choreography and footwork from Kelly, who makes Justin Timberlake look positively arthritic by comparison.
On Sean France, ballet master for Missouri Contemporary Ballet Company. August 2007
France's grandparents worked the vaudeville circuit, and his parents' credits include work on Broadway and in Hollywood with such notables as Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins. Kelly - who famously employed ballet to great effect in the film "An American In Paris" - was France's godfather.
"Gene Kelly used to say that dance is something that is handed down from one person to the next," said France. "You can't learn it from a book, and you can't learn it from a video. It has to be passed down.”
Brad Lang. www.classicmovies.org
Probably the most profound thing you can say about Gene Kelly is that he did for dancing what Bill Gates did for being a computer geek; he made it cool. As somebody else has said, he was the Bruce Springsteen of tap dancers. Unlike Astaire, perhaps his only peer, he didn't dance in top hats and tails on polished floors. He wore chinos and polo shirts and white socks with loafers. He was a guy. As somebody who once took tap-dancing lessons, I owe him a personal debt of gratitude!
Violet Glaze. Pop Matters website
Gene Kelly, the self-described Brando of dance (to Astaire's Cary Grant,) was physical, prowling and pacing in proletarian getups (like the very Stanley Kowalski t-shirt and jeans he wears to waltz with a mop in Thousands Cheer (1943)) with an undercurrent of animalism. He could dance just as well as Astaire and he telegraphed the same unabashed joy when he did, but his very he-man style carried a tinge of sex and violence that places him closer to Bruce Lee...
But what Astaire lacks, and Bruce Lee and Kelly share, is unadulterated power. Astaire was strong — you'd have to be, to do what he did — but he wore it in a way that was unobtrusive, all his horsepower subsumed into a fissure-less illusion of untroubled elegance. Kelly and Lee wore their fortitude visibly. Even though the essence of their might was very different — Kelly smooth and robust like a thoroughbred, Lee tight and swift like the tip of a whip — only fools and masochists would try and take their lunch money...
Marian Horosko, dancer in An American In Paris. The Making Of An American In Paris. DVD 2008
Kelly was enthusiastic and fun, and he looked as if he could hardly wait to get out there and dance, and he had this wonderful grin. We wanted to be part of what he saw and what he wanted.