re: Did any of these stunning Charleston dancers do Broadway?
Posted by: reed23 01:44 am EST 01/15/22
In reply to: Did any of these stunning Charleston dancers do Broadway? - DistantDrumming 11:30 pm EST 01/14/22

The only one I found had done Broadway was Bobby Banas, who appeared on Broadway as an "Indian" in Jerome Robbins' production of PETER PAN starring Mary Martin. That production originated at the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera,, where Banas was already an established young regular. After playing Broadway in PETER PAN, he returned to Hollywood, where he spent the rest of his career. He danced with Marilyn Monroe (and kissed her) in "Let's Make Love" (1960), played "Joyboy" in WEST SIDE STORY (1961), and was one of the chimney sweeps in MARY POPPINS. He's still with us, by the way; I corresponded with him a few years ago, when a YouTube video of "Nitty Gritty," a number he choreographed and was lead dancer for on The Judy Garland Show, suddenly swept the nation, getting millions of views, with posts titled "The Best Boy Dancer Ever."

Two of the other DON'T KNOCK THE ROCK dancers did Hollywood versions of Broadway musicals; Gilbert Brady was in the LI'L ABNER film, and Troy Patterson was in GIVE A GIRL A BREAK, MY SISTER EILEEN, and GUYS & DOLLS.

Many of the dancers in this movie had been in its predecessor "Rock Around The Clock," also choreographed by Earl Barton, who had a very active West Coast career as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Several of them were also in "The Benny Goodman Story," making me wonder if that was also choreographed by Earl Barton, but I can't find a choreographer credit for that film.

There were thousands upon thousands of dancers in Hollywood, and countless opportunities for employment and serious skill development in the movies, on TV, and in adjacent Vegas. They were in no way the inferiors of their Broadway counterparts; getting in a movie meant being seen by millions of people, as opposed to thousands of people. There was comparatively little traffic between the dance communities of the two coasts, and most of it was one-way – to Hollywood. Occasionally someone like Michael Kidd (or Bob Fosse) would bring out his favorite dancers from New York. There was the story of Donna McKechnie, who went to Hollywood after her Broadway triumphs in the early 70s, and wound up in the colossal bomb "The Little Prince," and returned to NYC, which made up a good deal of her plot line in A CHORUS LINE.

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