Last night my husband and I attended an event called An Evening of Gene Kelly at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. All month long they are screening Gene Kelly's films to celebrate his 100th birthday which will be on August 23rd. For two special night's Gene Kelly's widow, Patricia Ward Kelly will be speaking about Gene Kelly's work, art, and life. The first night was last night and what a divine night it was!
After we dropped off our children at my dad's we drove to 80th street and took the train two stops to 66th and Lincoln Center because it is just horrible to park there-literally impossible unless you shell out cash and that's a no-no for us.
I will be honest, I felt totally naked walking around in a dress and with my braces exposed but I did it darnit...I DID IT! And off we went to the theater! To my surprise I was the only one there out of possibly over 80 people that was dressed with a vintage flair! Oh well, more fun for me!
This is inside the theater there were all these amazing old film posters. I had to take a photo with this one but this month I spotlighted James Cagney and am spotlighting four of his films this month!
The theater was gorgeous and even included a concession stand with loads of goodies. We sat in the front and awaited to hear Mrs. Kelly speak. The first part of the program was watching a video collage consisting of many snippets of his films and works. Then Mrs. Kelly came out and began to share with us who she was before she met Gene Kelly and how they met. She was writing for show that he was hosting and a friendship grew out of their meetings. In time she flew to California where she worked with him again-some time later they fell in love and were married in 1990.
Mrs. Kelly was twenty-six when they first met and he was seventy-three. She said he was so young at heart that the age difference wasn't noticeable for her. I can defiantly see how they connected. They were (and are) very intelligent, well-read, and very well-spoken. I am sure they shared a deep and meaningful connection with one another. Something people often forget about in relationships is that having a foundation based on respect and friendship is the best way to build a romantic and loving relationship on.
Mrs. Kelly spent the rest of the evening showing snippets of his films and sharing stories about them, how Gene Kelly felt about them, and the work as well as the creativity that went behind them. I can tell you that admired Gene Kelly before but now I am in awe of him. I left that theater utterly inspired by his work ethic, his drive, his passion, and his vision.
Mrs. Kelly told us that Gene felt that the most difficult choreography that he ever created was for a film in 1944 co-starring Rita Hayworth called Cover Girl. The dance scene is called "Alter Ego". This scene was created before the use of computers and all the various sorts of technology that we have now. He had to dance both pieces exactly the same and the second part of the dance (the part where he is the alter ego) completely shrouded in black material which he found disorienting and very difficult. Be prepared to be dazzled. This man was so ahead of his time!
Gene Kelly dancing the "Alter Ego" from his film "Cover Girl"
I learned so much about his dance training and how he never meant to be a dancer. He wanted to be so many other things like a baseball player. Listening to Mrs. Kelly speak about his life and how he lived it reminded me again that we are all called to do certain things in life. Some of us will be in the limelight and get noticed like Gene Kelly was and others not so much but we are all meant to do something spectacular with ourselves. Its just up to fate, chance, timing, and opportunity to help us get there and then we have to work hard, be driven, be passionate, remain true to ourselves to become successful at it-whatever "IT" is. For Kelly it was dance and how he used dance in film. His goal was to create a balance and flow between the camera and the movement in the dance. I think he succeeded many times over.
And then there were these boxes. I had no clue what they were but I remember telling my husband that they should really clean the stage before a screening. Boy was I wrong! It was all a part of the show! Mrs. Kelly had some of Gene Kelly's personal effects in them. She spoke candidly about his last 19M and how he passed on peacefully (and awake unlike what sites have said). She showed us some of his Valentine's that he made for her, his hats, and even some props from some of his films.
Mrs. Kelly truly gave us a special gift~one that I will treasure always. Many from Gene Kelly's generation have long passed or are at an old age. Those in their 50's and 60's are still celebrating the films and events from the past. But its my generation and those under who are in many ways removed from the decades of the 1920's-1960's. We weren't even in a thought in our parents (or grandparents) heads let alone connected. Few of us like myself have a grandparent that fought in WWII but when I left the theater last night I felt like I have a clearer understanding of what my future goals are and what I want to do with my life. It is something I will share with you very shortly.
Mrs. Kelly was so gracious and kind (and gorgeous!). We swapped business cards and I was able to thank her for an incredible evening. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak about her beloved husband, Gene Kelly-please go see her! You will not regret it. Because you know what...celebrating the past isn't only about pretty clothes, hats, and jewelry but about the history, films, art, music, foods, and just simply about the people. An event like last night's gave me an opportunity to learn more and broaden my mind (and my heart).
Ironically yesterday it was raining almost all day long. I say its ironic because one of Gene Kelly's most iconic films is called Singing in the Rain. So of course I had to pose on a rainy street in Manhattan hehe
I hope you felt like you got a little glimpse into my experience last night. There is so much to share but not enough blog space LOL Tomorrow I will share a bit about my outfit and all that fun girly stuff. And then next week I will be taking a brief blog break to attempt to get some crafting done so I will have some amazing guest bloggers posting! Until then.....