I wasn’t expecting, when Clementine and I set out to watch White Christmas this evening, that I’d find myself delivering an impromptu, barely comprehensible lecture on modern dance… I know that I’d seen the movie before, but I had absolutely no memory whatsoever of this incredibly out-of-place little scene featuring Danny Kaye and half a dozen painfully serious young women in drab, utilitarian dresses, who look as though they were plucked right off the streets of Leningrad.
I reminded Clementine of the Merce Cunningham videos that we’d watched at the Andy Warhol Museum, and tried to put the whole thing into historical context, but I think I did a pretty pathetic job of explaining why it is that, in 1954, Irving Berlin, and the people who made White Christmas, would want to divert from their storyline in order to critique modern dance. But, I made something up, and we paused the movie for a few minutes, so that Clementine could try out a few moves. And, just now, as I was putting her to bed, she told me that she thought she’d like to take a modern dance class. “The only thing is,” she said, “I don’t know if I could keep my face like Wednesday Addams for that long.” I told her that, during practice, you were probably allowed to smile, and that it was just during performances that you were required to look suicidal.