“A tap dancer is really a frustrated drummer.”
As a dancer during the Golden Age of Hollywood, Eleanor Powell reigned as the top female tap dancers for MGM. The only person who equaled her in terms of talent was Fred Astaire, who she partnered with in films. It is said that Eleanor was the performer who brought MGM back to the top from the brinks of bankruptcy. In 1965 she was named the World’s Greatest Tap Dancer by Dance Masters of America, after a full career of legendary dancing in night clubs, theatres, and films. Ironically, as a young dancer, she was trained in ballet and acrobatics and did not know how to tap. She eventually learned when she started missing out on rolls because she didn’t have that skill set. She started her training and eventually became named Tap Dancer of the Year. Eleanor has also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame and was inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame for her amazing dance career. Amazingly, this all stated because her mother enrolled her into dance classes to overcome her shyness.
Patti Vickerman honoring Eleanor Powell
“My connection to Eleanor Powell is through the use of her arms and upper body. So much tap dancing today is into the floor with nothing interesting going on in the upper body. Her movement shaped the way I dance because of my extensive ballet background and training. She was able to make tap dancing flow. And just like Eleanor, I also started dancing at a young age in night clubs around the US and Europe. As a teacher, I love to share stories about all of the opportunities I had performing alongside my father and with many well known entertainers, like Bob Hope and Red Skelton.”