A poetic tribute to Kelly's frame and form — BY MARC ORR
The smile. Radiant. Beaming. Broad. A supernova of a smile. It invites. It soothes. It comforts. It is the first thing you notice.
Then the body. That body. It does not soothe. It does not comfort. It challenges. It provokes. It snarls.
It rears up suddenly with bellicose impudence and explodes across the room. Contorting. Crackling. A celestial delineation of male pulchritude sculpted from palpable masculine stuff; undulating with sinewy ripples and pulsating muscularity.
That smile? On that body? At once incongruous and harmonious. Conspiratorial, even. The smile; flashing with sincere deference to Terpsichorean luminaries. To Astaires and Berkeleys. The body; slamming and shattering their conventions into a kaleidoscope of tiny relics. Instantly archaic.
It is relentless. That body. Tireless. Voracious. Provocative. It incites. It confounds. It discombobulates. An anachronistic oddity with no patience and little time. Misaligned with almost everything in its immediate sphere.
At last, they catch up. And. It. Is. Wondrous. For a while. Innovations are gifted graciously. Genre concepts are redefined easily. Then, the misalignment returns. And it remains.
At the end the body is tired and broken. Slumped. Resigned. Exhausted by the physical and emotional strain of too many things. Of fellow travelers, once devoted, now championing the other man. Always the other man.
That body. It is unrecognizable now.
But there is a smile. That smile.
An inferno of memories is reignited from the dying embers. Of Vaudevillian siblings. Of chastised hecklers and a young hoofer’s fist. Of Pittsburgh Pirates and dance schools. Of legendary Broadway dalliances. Of imperishable cinematic moments with children, dogs, cartoons, sailors, molls, and umbrellas. Of a blue-collar artisan. An emblem of proletarian brio.
The smile. Radiant. Beaming. Broad.
It is the first thing you notice…
Image: "Tap dancing shoes" by Maria, Wikimedia Commons, 2007.