Fred Astaire week: Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails

August 20, 2012 • 6:06 pm

This is absolutely classic Astaire: wonderful dancing in the full formal regalia, avec cane, which becomes part of the tap routine.  The song, which you’ve surely heard, is by Irving Berlin, who wrote it for the 1935 film Top Hat. The choreography is, as it so often was, by both Astaire and Hermes Pan.

Near the end, the tempo of Astaire’s feet is almost like that of a machine gun.

15 thoughts on “Fred Astaire week: Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails

  1. If the choir and priest(s) had performed something like this every Sunday at 9a.m. mass, I might have remained Catholic, (for a bit longer anyway).

    I just love satire.

  2. Very good. Though Fred Astaire cringed at the statement that he was a great singer he certainly was a great song interpreter. He had pretty good rhythm too.

  3. So much to appreciate about the graceful, wry, energetic, and precise expression of Astaire’s talent. I know his sister was considered to be more talented than he, but I just can’t imagine how that could be possible.

    Christopher Walken, when growing up in NYC decades ago, said it was a common practice for boys to learn tap dancing, and that he suspects that many burly firemen and policeman are secret tap dancers.

      1. I worked at a library branch last year, each day we started out with this video. God, it was cool. How are you going to have a bad day, you start it out this way?

        PS. Needs more cowbell.

  4. I love his seemingly effortless and casual movement, particularly at the beginning (which is very likely the result of very hard work and attention to detail, anything but effortless and casual). It’s the mark of supreme confidence.

    I don’t know how it’s even possible to put such personality, humour and even warmth into a performance like that, but that is Astaire’s enduring appeal.

  5. Painful to watch, for the reason that I chopped my cable subscription some months ago because they made me so mad. And I very much miss Fred Astaire.

    But here’s a thing: when I’m practicing my martial arts form in the mornings–the very best time of my day–I have in my mind the way Fred Astaire moved, as if oiled, and that’s what I aspire to every day.

  6. Here’s Judy Garland and Fred from 1948 Easter Parade. Garland referred to this dance as one of the highlights of her career. She is having great fun. Careful viewers will notice her checking Astaire a couple of times for cues.

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