Nov. 12--Jeff Phillips grew up watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers glide across the screen of a small, black-and-white television if only to catch a glimpse of his grandmother in her younger days as a featured Busby Berkeley chorus line dancer.
"She was involved in some of the best productions of that era," he says.
So when he saw a reference to vintage movie posters of Hollywood dance musicals, it inspired the exhibition "Gotta Dance!"
The free exhibition curated by Phillips -- opening Nov. 15 and running through Feb. 8 in the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks -- features 40 posters on loan from film producer Mike Kaplan's larger collection. It spotlights the poster as an art form and explores the ways dance was used as a dominant image in promoting Hollywood musicals and non-musicals.
Many of the featured posters were created by well-known illustrators of the day. They include a whimsical French stone lithograph by Bernard Lancy featuring Danny Kaye as "The Kid from Brooklyn" with a chorus line of can-can dancers in the style of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and an original French-release poster for "An American in Paris" that belonged to Gene Kelly.
In the latter poster, Kelly and Leslie Caron are in a dance pose in front of iconic symbols of Paris: Moulin Rouge, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.
"Each film is like a work of art," Phillips says. "So what you have in that poster is like a composite of all the themes of the film."
The exhibit also features a rare American "Strike Up the Band" poster featuring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in caricaturist Al Hirschfeld's hand and the Italian poster for "Salome" with its colorful depiction of Rita Hayworth's dance of the seven veils by Anselmo Ballester.
An opening reception is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 16.
Plans for a concert of music from the era and "Tea and Talk" lecture are also in the works.
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