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Essential clips: Fred Astaire

Further to last week's introduction to tap dancing, here is the best tap dance sequence I have ever seen - and it's a very well known classic - it's Fred Astaire dancing in the Hollywood film Blue Skies which was released in 1946.

It starts gently but just gets better and better. Something you may not notice straight away is that there are very few cuts in the editing. In fact, 1.30-2.50 is a single shot! That would never be done these days but it gives us a chance to see the dance in all its glory - and it shows that Astaire really could do all those walking stick tricks without cheating! It was Astaire who insisted that interfering editing was kept to a minimum in favour of single full-length shots which he thought were the best way to film dance.

(I spent hours in the garden playing with my grandfather's walking stick when I saw this - until my father accidentally recorded over the cassette and I lost my inspiration...)

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