“You play and I'll dance”

Todd Decker

in Music Makes Me

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268883
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950061 | DOI:
“You play and I'll dance”

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Prominent use of black performers in “The Carioca” suggested to some in the African American community that Fred Astaire's future films might provide further openings for black song-and-dance talent on the big screen. The black performers Astaire did bring into his numbers were not dancers but musicians: singers and players from popular music and jazz who appeared beside him periodically in his films and regularly on his television shows. This chapter focuses on questions of casting and content by examining Astaire's film and television routines made in partnership with African American musicians, and considers five interracial routines that Astaire made with these musicians. Spanning more than a thirty-year period, these dances trace not only Astaire's ongoing engagement with black jazz and popular musicians, but also the changing possibilities for interracial performance on both big and small screens.

Keywords: Fred Astaire; popular music; jazz; films; television; dances; casting; interracial routines; African American musicians

Chapter.  16755 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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