Show Review: “Gotta Dance!” Great Moments of Dance in Film

by Chad Liffmann on March 29, 2015

On Saturday night, the San Francisco Symphony hosted Gotta Dance!: Great Moments of Dance in Film at Davies Symphony Hall. If the first thing you pictured when hearing this title was Gene Kelly dancing under the giant orchestrated set of Broadway lights or the long, flowing white dress of Cyd Charisse (or the flashy green dress, for that matter), then this was absolutely the show for you. But what do I know? Maybe you were there!

Featuring selections from Brigadoon, Singin’ in the Rain, Madam Bovary, An American in Paris, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the program mainly showcased highlights from the golden age of the movie musical, the 1950s. Obviously, it came as no surprise that 3 of the 5 film selections featured Gene Kelly.  The most surprising addition was the opening credits and spaceship waltz from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  It was fun to re-experience the iconic Kubrick-directed scenes, which were so brilliantly (and serendipitously) paired with Richard Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and “The Blue Danube waltz by Johann Strauss.  The inclusion of these scenes into the program may have left some audience members baffled. This was confirmed in the Lyft Line home when two ladies sharing the ride with me exclaimed, “The scene with the monkeys.  That was weird.”  In my opinion, it would be nice to see more additions like 2001 to these SF Symphony programs.  Seeing the vast number of musical interpretations and influences in film over time and within other genres can be just as engaging and memorable as seeing the scenes that set the original standard (like Singin’ in the Rain).

That being said, the show was still magnificent fun.  Per usual, credit is due to the members of the SF Symphony orchestra, and Saturday’s conductor Joshua Gersen, for their wonderful execution.  They made the incredibly difficult task of keeping in sync with the film projection seem quite easy.

Coming up, you can experience some of the amazing film sequences and scores from Tan Dun’s Martial Arts film trilogy: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, and The Banquet.  Info and tickets are available here.

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