I grew up watching and loving musicals. My father revered them and I followed suit. Considering that I had a deprived childhood with only six channels to choose from on the television I actually got to see plenty of the great classic musicals; Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly always seemed to be on the tube.
When I tell my children that TV’s used to be black and white and you had to turn a dial to turn the channels they look at me like I’m from another planet. There are two main memories I have from the transition from black and white to color. First, was the pain and then glory of watching Batman every day and having to see the evil spinning bat that said “Filmed in Technicolor” fly to the front of my screen to mock me. And second, the first time I saw Singing in the Rain in color blew my mind. I had seen it before but then seeing it in color it was as if the TV was made for exactly that movie.
Now as a movement teacher with an emphasis on core stability I watch these dance numbers and marvel at their power and grace. I teach people that walking at its finest involves core tone that allows the arms and legs to fall out of their sockets independently of the trunk and this is exactly what I see as I while away my time on youtube.
The video above is from The Band Wagon directed by Vincent Minnelli and features Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, who I was in love with. All of their movement comes from solidity deep within their core. The trunk is always distinct from the extremities. It is amazing to watch their legs move and their spine always maintain extension with perfect balance between the lower back and the lower belly.
You don’t need to be as strong as Fred Astaire or Cyd Charisse but it couldn’t hurt. Moving and aging are highly dependent on the tone of the muscles between the base of the rib cage and the base of the pelvis. That tone is what you see in any dancer worth their salt but even us regular people need to find some measure of strength and core stability in order to age gracefully.