What’s the first vision that comes to mind when you think about ballroom dancing? It might be the old black and white Hollywood movies featuring couples dancing in sweeping movements across the screen. They appear effortless, as if they are dancing through air. One of the most famous dance partnerships on the silver screen features is Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. If you love to watch ballroom dancing, you absolutely must check out one of their dance routines. They move in a cat-and-mouse routine, with Rogers usually put off by Astaire but won over by the end of the dance. Today, we would like to further explore the interesting partnership between Rogers and Astaire.
Fred Astaire’s Modest Beginnings
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Astaire regularly attended dance classes at the age of three with his sister, Adele, who was a year older. Their years of dance experience paid off, and they danced on both Broadway and London’s West End. However, Adele’s career ended when she decided to marry Lord Charles Cavendish, the son of the Duke of Devonshire. Fred Astaire’s career in London was so successful that he was already considered a full blown star when he began acting in Hollywood in 1933.
Born as Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence, Missouri, Roger’s early life was tumultuous. Her mother tried repeatedly to escape her husband, who kidnapped his daughter several times throughout her childhood. Her mother worked as a scriptwriter in Hollywood and New York, planting an interest in the silver screen for her young daughter. At the age of 14, Ginger won a Charleston contest and began touring the country dancing in vaudeville acts, where she also learned acting. A truly talented dancer and actress, she broke through both Hollywood and Broadway, quickly making a name for herself.
A Partnership Is Born
The famous partnership began when the two were paired in the 1933 movie, Flying Down to Rio. However, their partnership was reluctant. Although they danced well together, their chemistry was limited to the screen. Offscreen, they weren’t particularly close. Apparently, Astaire had a very jealous wife, Phyllis, who was said to have resented the partnership between the two. In fact, she made it clear that she didn’t want the actors to kiss onscreen at all, which they only did one time during their entire film career together. However, Phyllis had nothing to worry about. Their partnership was simply a business arrangement; they were never romantically linked, and they weren’t even friends. Although they were both perfectionists, Astaire was the one in control, choreographing their scenes and taking the lead. Clearly, Fred Astaire was in charge, and Rogers grew to resent it. She wanted to hone in her acting skills in high dramas and move away from the lighter musicals she was known for, and she worried about being typecast simply as a musical star.
From the way that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced, you would never know that their offscreen relationship was not particularly close. If you would like to dance like the famed Hollywood stars, take the first step: sign up for classes at our ballroom dance studio in Woodbridge. You will have so much fun learning dance choreography and improving upon your skills when you take ballroom dance lessons at The Modern Ballroom Dance Studio.