In the 1954 movie White Christmas, an Irving Berlin no-people-like-show-people musical that should be a cult classic but is more often labeled kitsch (it’s that Santa Claus finale complete with pre-teens in tutus doing bourrées under the tree), there’s a send-up of Martha Graham that is one of the best send-ups in dance history. The number, choreographed by the Broadway eminence Robert Alton, is called “Choreography,” and it’s sung by Danny Kaye, hilarious in geeky-beatnik garb: black turtleneck, black floods, black beret—eyeliner!—he’s Cecil Beaton doing Sartre. Kaye doesn’t perform alone. He’s surrounded, swarmed, by a corps of barefoot girls in sackcloth shifts, their ponytails swinging like tribal rites. While he warbles, “Chicks/ Who did kicks/ Aren’t kicking anymore, they’re doin’ choreography,” the girls create tight little fire escapes around...

 
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