19 December 2014 | l_rawjalaurence
Engaging Exercise, but Rather Pointless
In this documentary, first aired at Christmas 2011, former Royal Ballet dancer Darcey Bussell comes out of retirement to try and dance some of the wonderful routines pioneered by Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.
The format is highly reminiscent of STRICTLY COME DANCING, with Bussell shown taking advice from experts in musical theater, and going through the often painful process of retraining herself from classical ballet into tap. The fact that Len Goodman is wheeled in, his grinning features recalling Hollywood's so-called "Golden Age" of musicals, pushes the parallel still further.
In truth Bussell makes a highly creditable stab at some memorable routines, notably "Puttin' on the Ritz," and "Good Morning," from SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. But when we see the clips with the original artistes performing these routines, we understand just how great they were. The program seems strangely pointless, although there are some moments to be enjoyed for their own sake, notably an interview with the aging Stanley Donen, co-director of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, who recalls just how painful the rehearsals for the film were, with Kelly doing much of his famous routine in the midst of a Californian summer and suffering from a heavy cold to boot.