Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Turn on the Tap

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Turn on the Tap

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard Godwin

JUST about every scene in The Artist is delightful. The French tribute to silent cinema is steadily winning over awards juries and cinemagoers with its debonair charm and quirky wit.

There is one sequence, however, that really knocks 'em dead (provided they haven't left the cinema, unable to believe that "silent film" means "no jaw-jaw"). I refer to the tap-dancing routine performed by dashing George Valentin and the divine Peppy Miller. Not only did it lift my weary heart out of the January doldrums -- it got me thinking ... "You know," I remarked to my wife on the way out of the multiplex, "I would kind of like to take tapdancing lessons." "Oh! I was hoping you'd be inspired to take a vow of silence," she responded.

'Gene or Fred Astaire?' assistant Freed presenting me shoe She didn't really. Actually, she was quite pro the idea but did remind me that I am completely malco, like a rhino on ketamine, and that what I claim is natural exuberance on the dance floor is really just embarrassing. "Actually, please do take lessons, it's your only hope." And maybe, she said, she might join me after a couple of months, if I didn't die.

This might have remained a passing fancy but then the following day, as I strolled around the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy, I made an astonishing discovery. The last work in the show is a video installation, featuring a group of Royal Ballet dancers. In one of them, Stephen McRae, begins to tap-dance -- amazingly.

Two mood-alteringly joyous pieces of art culminating in a bit of hoofing in two days? Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance, clearly has a message for us in 2012.

Kelly the in asked, A few phone calls later and Sadler's Wells had lent me the use of its Gillian Lynne studio and choreographer Tommy Franzen had agreed to give me a lesson. I just managed to get to Freed dance suppliers in St Martin's Lane to buy a pair of shoes before they closed.

two styles "Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire?" the assistant asked, presenting me with two contrasting styles. Actually, the Gene Kelly pair was the only ones that fitted, so Gene Kelly I was. …

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