Today I had the chance to see one of the greatest films ever made in the theatre.
Singin’ In The Rain is – if not my absolute favourite – definitely in my top 10 favourite movies of all time.
I love a good backlot musical movie from the 40s and 50s. I love the costumes – the fact they were designed and created for the movie, not purchased based on a concept. I love the song and dance numbers and the thinly veiled excuses to start them every 15 minutes. Singin’ In The Rain does this best.
Of course, the best thing about this film is this guy:
Gene Kelly. If that doesn’t make you feel tingly in your bathing suit area, I don’t know what will.
I got distracted there for a minute (can you blame me??). This was supposed to be an outfit post, wasn’t it?
I always like to dress for an occasion. Whether it’s the pink polka dot full skirt and crinoline when I went to the touring production of Hairspray, or even just that “Dumbledore’s Army” t-shirt I made myself to see Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix. I like my outfit to be a bit of a nod to the event I’m attending.
So to attend a 60th anniversary (and 100th birthday of Gene Kelly) showing of a whimsical 1952 musical? Clearly I needed a full skirt and some saddle shoes!
Dress, made by me from a 1957 vintage pattern, no size // Cardigan, Old Navy, Large // Socks, Ardene // Saddle shoes, T.U.K., size 10 // Petticoat, Hell Bunny, Large
Now, I didn’t end up wearing the petticoat to the show – I think it’s a bit too full for casual wear. I’d like to get one with just a couple layers for daytime. Plus, I drive a tiny car, and it’s hard to fit a full skirt and petticoat in the front seat (I’ve tried, trust me!)
The glasses are novelty, Hallowe’en glasses that I found online and convinced my optometrist to put lenses in.
Watching this film this afternoon helped me make a decision that’s been weighing on my heart all month. I’ve come home from every dance class this month stressed out, frustrated and, in some cases, in tears.
Don’t get me wrong – I love dancing. I love the technical skill I can show off and the music used in Belly Dance. I love the costumes, the attitude and the way I can be a different character for 5 minutes with Burlesque. Ever the over achiever, it really hurts my heart that not every one in the various groups I dance in have the same passion.
I get annoyed when we have to stop a class to go over a technique that we’ve already gone over several times, because not everyone shows up every week and/or practices at home. I talked to a couple other fellow dancers last week and it was comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels that way.
The frustration, coupled with the fact that I’m not made of money, brought me to a decision: I was going to have to quit one class this fall. I could take one class, either burlesque or belly dance, but not both. I didn’t have the money nor the emotional/mental strength to deal with the frustration.
But as much as the frustration in the individual classes made me sad, the thought of not doing them made my cry even harder. However, by the end of last week, I’d made my decision. Then things kept coming up, reminding me of how much I loved that style of dance. So then I had changed my mind – I was quitting the other style of dance. And I was sticking with it.
Before the film today, there was an introduction from TCM and an interview with star Debbie Reynolds. She recounted how this was the first film she ever made where she needed to dance. She had never danced before and didn’t know what she was doing. She worked hard, but Gene Kelly even confided in co-star Donald O’Conner that he was frustrated with the number “Good Morning”. There were some steps she just couldn’t get.
Reynolds also recounted how she practiced until her feet bled – and kept going. I’ve also heard how, in the title number, Gene Kelly had a 103F fever and still danced his way through a rainy scene – in a wool suit that shrunk in all that rain as the day went on.
It made me appreciate the sprezzatura involved with any kind of performance (or art in general). You don’t see the tears, the stress, the blood stained shoes, the bummed knees or the meals bought on the cheap because you spent all your money on costumes. You just see the performance – the magic world being created before you for a few minutes.
I was reminded of a song lyric that comes to mind whenever I feel like I’m working too hard on something. As those witty goofballs, Barenaked Ladies once said:
“Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight.”
Now yes, I know that’s actually a Bruce Cockburn song, but I’m only 32, so that’s a BNL song to me! It says to me that if I really want something and it’s worth it, it’s going to take a lot of work. Not everything is going to be easy. But the payoff for the finished product is worth it. And my tears over not continuing with dance classes have proven that this is worth it.
So, this fall will bring me back to the various dance studios. I think what I need to do is take next summer off. People take summer breaks for a reason – overkill. I danced three classes through the entire summer and I think I just got burned out. You need to take a break to remind yourself why you love what you’re doing.
This number is my favourite from Singin In The Rain. It’s where my plans for the fall started to turn around. “Gotta Dance”, part of the modern montage in the film, features some seriously eye-popping costumes. I love the pink tie/yellow waistcoat ensemble Gene Kelly wears here.
All that fringe! In June, I did my first burlesque solo in a fringey 2-piece similar to these dresses. The thought of not putting it on again made me feel feel really sad. Then it made me think of compliments I’ve received from that performance and others and I think I might actually be really good at this? Dancing – performing dance, no less – is something I never imagined I’d be doing. It’s so far out of what was once my comfort zone that I still need a lot of reassurance that I’m not just some fat girl up on stage making a fool of herself. But I think I’m really good at this, and I love it and life’s too short to not do things we love, right?
Be good to each other! I’ll be back later in the week with a review of some Lush products I got last weekend. For now, leave a comment – what do you do that is hard and tedious, but oh so worth it?