VenueWalter Reade Theater
New 35mm print!
The ambitious Invitation to the Dance was Gene Kelly’s personal dream project—a means of showcasing the high caliber of dancers in Europe and America. Originally, Kelly planned only to direct and choreograph this all-dance anthology film. But MGM wanted to utilize Kelly’s star power for the picture’s benefit, and insisted that he perform in all three episodes. In “Circus,” Kelly plays Pierrot, a pantomime who is tragically in love with another performer in the troupe. In the more modern jazzy sequence, “Ring Around the Rosy,” Kelly plays “the Marine,” one of many characters who are connected by the exchange of a bracelet from lover to lover. In “Sinbad the Sailor,” Kelly takes on the familiar role of a sailor, who after purchasing a magic lamp, dances in a fully-animated setting with animated characters (a sequence that took over a year to animate). Within these three segments, Kelly is joined by talented ballet dancers, such as Igor Youskevitch, Claude Bessy, Tamara Toumanova, Tommy Rall, and Diane Adams. Invitation to the Dance—filmed in London 1952, but released in 1956—was a daring cinematic experiment at a time when the Hollywood dance musical was declining in popularity, which perhaps contributed to its disappointing run at the box office. Winner of the Golden Bear Award at the 6th International Berlin Film Festival (1956), this film illuminates Kelly’s innovative approach to dance on film and his desire to continually share this passion.