Click the image to the right for a wonderful reminder, in the form of book review, of what makes dance uniquely suited to certain important cultural tasks:
Now that The Artist has whetted our interest in the silent film and the revolutionary impact of sound, it may be time to reconsider the career of the man who made the conversion to sound the basis of a whole new kind of movie, Fred Astaire. The Artist suggests quite accurately that the definitive event of the new sound era was the arrival of the film musical. Sound meant music; music meant jazz. But the technological transition was slow. After the first feature-length sound movie, The Jazz Singer (1927), which starred Al Jolson, it was six years before the advent of the Jazz Dancer proved that talking and even singing mouths were not nearly as expressive in the new medium as dancing feet, especially and almost exclusively the feet of Fred Astaire. Astaire and the difference he made to the film musical add up to more than the story of one career. No other film genre provided as perfect a synchronization of sight and sound or an experience as exhilarating, and that was very largely Astaire’s doing.
If you do not have time to read the reviews, let alone the books, at least have a refresher here. Start with a look at what a dancer can accomplish with a walking stick for a partner (at two minutes in the first clip below the slow buildup transforms into a spectacle).
Then, better yet, what a dancer can accomplish with Ginger who, lest we forget, did it all backwards and in heels (if you only have time for one, watch this second clip).