I know I'm light years behind on this (in viral video years, anyway), but Lucas just introduced me to this wonderful video of a dance called "The Nitty Gritty," as performed on The Judy Garland Show in 1964. The video is titled "Best 60s Dancer Boy Ever" and you can see why. Just try to not watch this at least three times in a row:
I mean... RIGHT?? This guy throws his whole heart and soul into these moves like he just won a million dollars.
I want to talk more about him, but first, a few more observations that I can't just gloss over:
- Why do Judy and Company stumble over at the beginning? Maybe it's part of an in-joke that we miss the setup of with this video edit, but I like to imagine it was an earthquake of excitement at the arrival of these sassy kids and their sweet moves.
- Are the dancers all going to the spring semi-formal after this? What's with the tuxedoes and flippy dresses? Is that just how people dressed in 1964 when they were about to get nitty gritty? Maybe Judy had a strict dress code.
- Homeboy in the front is obviously killing it, but let's not disregard his dance partner, because she is getting INTO IT. Her facial expressions around the :30-:40 mark are especially priceless.
- Guy in the back who loses his balance at the end! Maybe the earthquake was still happening? Good recovery, though.
OK, so now that I've gotten all those things off my chest and I've watched the video two more times, let's talk about this guy in the front. I did a bit of research (Google) and discovered that his name is Bobby Banas and he actually choreographed the dance specifically for that show. But beyond that work of genius, he was a featured dancer in a bunch of movies, including West Side Story and Mary Poppins, and he made his big debut in the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan that shaped much of my childhood. (Yes, I lived in the past even then.)
I learned most of this thanks to an excellent interview with Mr. Banas from a couple years ago. He talks a lot about how he got his start dancing (his grandmother sent him to class), all of his awesome stage and movie credits, and of course his reaction to this video going viral:
I can’t BELIEVE what has happened with the “Nitty Gritty” clip. Several years ago a friend said he had a copy that he found somewhere. He gave me one, I looked at it and put it away. I didn’t think it was anything to get that excited about, and that was that. Then I guess someone else found a copy, and posted it on YouTube. Then someone else posted it on Facebook and the sh*t hit the fan. I was getting e-mail and calls, and questions about who was which dancer besides me, and all types of remarks wanting to know what type of dance it was. Yes, it was my choreography and my own interpretation of the song. Peter Gennaro was the choreographer for Garland, but he had to go to New York that week for some reason and his assistant didn’t have any idea what to do with the tune, so the director asked me to come up with a dance and that was the result.
Lucas and I can't stop watching this guy. We even found ourselves glued to this whole video of his dancing highlights:
(Although, let's be real, part of what makes this compilation amazing is the insanity of some of these movies. The one where they're all singing and dancing in a men's locker room? And then that one where everyone dance-splash-runs into the ocean? And THEN the one where Bobby's wearing sunglasses and dancing like a leopard?? I really need to watch all these to figure out how those plots work out.)
ANYWAY. I hope you appreciate Mr. Bobby Banas as much as I do now. Or that you at least watch the Nitty Gritty ten more times and learn all the moves, because that's my plan.