Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook: Let’s Dance

Somehow my wires crossed and I blogged about the wrong episode for the preview! My apologies. Instead, I had the pleasure of viewing the “Let’s Dance” episode featuring Liza Minnelli and loads of unseen footage of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Where to begin?

I love Michael Feinstein’s determination to learn the steps of legendary dancers such as Fred Astaire. As a regular viewer of these films, seeing the style of Astaire and Kelly put into action shows the technique and difficulty these men faced in dancing for the camera. I’m not sure if I’m convinced that anyone can follow the footsteps of Fred Astaire… especially since my brain barely knows the difference between right and left. (Seriously, if you’re giving me directions in a car… I will make you point instead of verbalizing them.) I think this episode also gave me a stronger appreciation for Fred Astaire — I’ve always been a Gene Kelly fan because I love his films with Judy Garland. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. Astaire had such an elegant style of dancing and it would be foolish to brush his legacy aside because I tend to celebrate Gene Kelly moreso.

But can you blame me…?

Speaking of Judy Garland… isn’t Liza Minnelli looking just fabulous? I’ve noticed her in the public eye much more in recent years (Sex in the City 2, Arrested Development, Smash, etc.). Minnelli has an unbeatable onstage presence and most of it is due to her ability to move about the stage without really pausing to dance extensively. She demands her audience’s attention through the inflections in her singing voice, but also through the complimentary dance movements. I had the pleasure of seeing Miss Minnelli in October of 2011 and I was beyond impressed with her unyielding ability to interact with the crowd. Dance is not only a means of expression but a form of communication when Liza Minnelli is performing.

Another subject Feinstein addressed was the Hollywood Canteen. So few remember this interesting location in history and I find the degree of appreciation for the Hollywood (and Stagedoor) Canteen to be minimal. The Hollywood Canteen was a place for servicemen to visit before shipping out to fight on the battlefronts of World War II. Founded by John Garfield and Bette Davis, the Canteen served as a safe haven for soldiers to dance the night away with the Hollywood elite. I love the idea of the Canteen — our appreciation for our soldiers today is merely a yellow magnetic ribbon attached to the back of our cars. Whatever happened to the war effort? I know a lot of people disagree with war and the reasoning behind our current affairs, but the people on the battlefields deserve our respect, regardless.

Tonight, I invite you to watch another installment of Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook. This episode will delve into the history of radio and its influence on American Citizens. Without radio… would we have soap operas? Would you have heard the latest music and news? Or how about those fireside chats with FDR? The past is an important part of our culture that need not be forgotten. Tune in tonight on KACV @ 9PM for Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook: On the Air and don’t forget to check back for a Double Take!

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