Gene Kelly

Eugene Curran Kelly was born August 23, 1912. Though very well-known fifty or so years ago, if anyone younger than a Boomer knows him now, it is probably because of Singing in the Rain, or perhaps An American in Paris  However, he was not only a dancer/actor but also a teacher, singer, film director, producer and choreographer.

Gene Kelly was born in Pittsburgh to an Irish/German family. He and his brother Fred were both given dance lessons, though he went reluctantly. Naturally enough, they were teased by the other boys in the neighborhood. One of the things Kelly pushed when he became older was the idea that dance was no more feminine than sports were. Indeed, the best athletes are graceful in the same way the best dancers are.

In his early adulthood, Gene taught dancing. It was a while before he made his way to Broadway, and finally to Hollywood, where he both directed and starred in many musicals, with Judy Garland, Debbie Reynolds, Lucille Ball, and Rita Hayworth, among others. He also worked with Fred Astaire, and Frank Sinatra.

Gene Kelly’s style was entirely different than Fred Astaire’s, however. Instead of the rather formal, tuxedoed dancing of the latter, Kelly’s dancing was more athletic, evoking the common man. Of himself, he says, “I don’t have a name for my style of dancing… I’ve borrowed from the modern dance, from the classical, and certainly from the American folk dance – tap-dancing, jitterbugging… But I have tried to develop a style which is indigenous to the environment in which I was reared.”

In 1952, he received an academy award “in appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.”


Quotes by Gene Kelly or about musical theatre

You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams. And I know if I can make you smile by jumping over a couple of couches or running through a rainstorm, then I’ll be very glad to be a song and dance man.–Gene Kelly

You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams.–Gene Kelly

I didn’t want to move or act like a rich man. I wanted to dance in a pair of jeans. I wanted to dance like the man in the streets.–Gene Kelly

Any man who looks like a sissy while dancing is just a lousy dancer.–Gene Kelly

I wanted to invent some kind of American dance that was danced to the music that I grew up on: Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart and Irving Berlin. So I evolved a style that certainly didn’t catch on right away – but I had some good mentors in New York who encouraged me.–Gene Kelly

I wanted to do new things with dance, adapt it to the motion picture medium.–Gene Kelly

I didn’t want to be a dancer… I just did it to work my way through college. But I was always an athlete and gymnast, so it came naturally.–Gene Kelly

How can we know the dancer from the dance?–William Butler Yeats

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.–Dave Barry

The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie.–Agnes de Mille

Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?–Friedrich Nietzsche

Dancers are instruments, like a piano the choreographer plays.–George Balanchine

To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful.–Agnes De Mille

Dancing is the poetry of the foot.–John Dryden

Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances.–Maya Angelou

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