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Jack Cole's 1953 Dance Film Screens at Hammer Museum with Mitzi Gaynor

Jack Cole and Marilyn Monroe. Photo courtesy TCM.
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For the past three years, L.A.-based arts journalist and Times dance critic Debra Levine has been on a crusade. She's been tracing the career of not-so-well-known choreographer Jack Cole and carrying his torch all over the country. In so doing, the venerable Billy Wilder Theater at the UCLA Hammer Museum has chosen to present a single evening screening of one of Cole's films, "The I Don't Care Girl," this Saturday, August 4, at 7:30pm.Adding the icing to the cake, film actress/dancer Mitzi Gaynor will attend the showing and participate in a post-screening conversation with Levine and dance historian Larry Billman.

New Jersey-born Cole arrived in L.A. in the 1940s after dancing for pioneering icons Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, amongst others. From those experiences (he was one of Ted Shawn's male dancers at Jacob's Pillow!), he brought a diverse array of cultural dance forms into his unique movement vocabulary, highlighted by the syncopated jazz dance style that became the convention. His work behind the screen influenced people like Bob Fosse and informed the Hollywood work of stars like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable.

According to promotional materials, Levine will also co-host a special tribute to dance maker Cole on Turner Classic Movies. The four-film tribute will be broadcast on September 10, 2012 starting at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT). Ms. Levine joins TCM's veteran host Robert Osborne to provide commentary..

Sounds like a rich tap into the history of the Los Angeles dance scene...with Mitzi, herself!!

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