Friday, March 18, 2011

Dance with Me

The other night I curled up on the couch with a glass of wine and watched one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies for the umpteenth time. When “The Turning Point” was released in 1977 many critics were less than kind, the ballet world was dismissive and it won no academy awards, but that didn’t stop millions of young women from falling in love with it.

Leslie Browne was 19 years old when she danced her way into our hearts as Emilia, the small town girl who joins a New York ballet company, falls in love, has her heart broken and becomes a principal dancer all in the space of one memorable summer.

While the plot may be a bit thin, the dance sequences featuring some of the greatest ballet dancers of the era are nothing short of dazzling.

For many moviegoers, this would be their first glimpse backstage at the pain, frustration, pulled muscles and bleeding toes that are the world of ballet ----- and their first glimpse of the incomparable Russian dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov as Yuri, captured forever in his magnificent prime.

But for me, the most beautiful dance sequence in the entire film remains the one that takes Emilia and Yuri from partners in dance on the dance floor to partners in love in the bedroom, all to the music of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.” In one of the most beautiful and sensual love scenes ever filmed, Emilia’s arms reach out and gracefully spiral down as she surrenders utterly and completely.

A decade later in another of my favorite films, “Dirty Dancing,” lovemaking for Baby and Johnny also begins on the dance floor this time to a slow, pulsating rock ‘n roll beat and ends in an explosion of passion in Johnny’s bed -- surely one of the sexiest love scenes ever filmed.

And yet, for me, the most sensual dancing duo of all time never even share an on-screen kiss, much less a night of passionate lovemaking. They don’t need to. It’s all right there in the dance, from flirtation to fulfillment. The moment Fred Astaire puts his hand on the small of Ginger’s back he is making love to her and the audience can feel it.

Katharine Hepburn said that Ginger gave Fred sex and Fred gave Ginger class. Whether or not that was the source of the Astaire/Rogers chemistry, I have no idea. But I do know that Fred had a way of touching and holding a woman that takes my breath away.

I once saw an interview with the gorgeous and talented Cyd Charisse who danced with both Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire in the 1950s.

After dancing with Gene, she said, she was black and blue, but after dancing with Fred there was not a mark on her. And she smiled sweetly as she said it.

Having hung up my toe shoes many years ago, I've spent the last 35 years with a man who cannot dance. And yet, and yet, when he puts his hand on the small of my back, it takes my breath away.

It’s all in the touch.


  1. Beautiful post. I love the images you used and the theme of love and dancing you explored. I'm interested in seeing "The Turning Point" now.


  2. Actually, there was a great deal more I could have said on the subject. For another day.

    If you see "The Turning Point" please let me know your reactions.

    1. Dear Marie-Thérèsse Thank you for this wonderful post. I have seen all these films and intend looking for Turning Point on UTube for an evening of indulgence. I have been in the world of Dance, especially ballet for all my working life so your post and pictures helped re-awaken the reason I went into the profession in the first place. Amongst the blood, sweat and tears of this beautiful artform there can be found a deep fulfilment.
      Thank you again,

    2. Chère Swan,

      As we get older and the aches and pains from simple, every-day movements begin to creep up on us, we can forget what it was like to move w/pain-free abandon when we were young. It's good to be reminded.........although, I do remember pulled muscles and bleeding toes, don't you?

      As always, love it when you stop by.

      Bisess, M-T

  3. M-T, I've never seen that movie but I do enjoy romantic movies that feature dancing couples and this reminds me of An American in Paris.

    Today I am cleaning out my closet and thinking of you. I am merging and purging my closet and drawers. I do it every so often. I just hope I am not too heavy handed so I'll try to use a light touch. Don't want to regret getting rid of something I might be able to use later.

    Have a great day, M-T!

  4. There's nothing like a good spring cleaning to set the world and your little corner of it to rights.

    Don't worry about getting rid of something you haven't used in a while. If you can't think of a reason to use it right now and haven't used it for a few years, you probably won't miss it.

    Have fun, Cynthia. I'll be thinking of you, too.


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