Monday, January 28, 2013

If You ♥ Fred, Read Hermes Pan: The Man Who Danced With Fred Astaire

If you love dancing and Fred Astaire, you’ve got to read John Franceschina’s new book, Hermes Pan, The Man Who Danced with Fred Astaire, published last summer.  Ava Astaire McKenzie, one of its reviewers, calls the book “wonderfully informative ” in a quote that also reveals her esteem for her father’s lifelong friend:  “I have always considered Hermes Pan to be my ‘other father,’” she says.
Hermes Pan first met Astaire at RKO in 1933 when the Great Depression was in full swing.  Pan was just 24 and penniless. According to Franceschina’s story, Pan, his mother, and his sister were in such desperate financial straits that they were forced to pack heir belongings repeatedly, moving from house to another in the wee hours of the night.
 As the story goes, Pan first worked with Astaire at a salary of $75.00/week. These were the days before the title ‘choreographer’ existed, so Pan’s first assignment was as Astaire’s creative ‘sounding board’ on Flying Down to Rio (1933).  The book also traces Pan's work with such famous stars as Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Frank Sinatra, among others.  He remained Astaire’s lifelong friend and choreographer through Astaire’s final film, Finian’s Rainbow (1968).
Combining extensive research with plenty of illustrations, the 300+-page book traces Pan’s history from his late 19th-century Greek roots throughout his career, delving deeply into his unique  relationship with Astaire. Readers with a passion for Fred Astaire, dance, musical theater and dance history in television and film will love it! Click this link to New York Social Diary's website to learn more about Pan and why this biography promises such a fascinating read.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

When Life Hands Us Lemons . . . Watch What FADS Folks Can Do!

On November 9, 2012, the inspirational message on the left appeared on the facebook page belonging to Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Beirut, owned by Marwan Jammal. And the message isn’t just lip service. When it comes to positive thinking (as is the case with so many other FADS folks), Marwan and his staff are notably, remarkably upbeat.

Well, we’ve had Marwan and his staff on our minds quite a bit during the past 3 days as they’ve endured the worst storm in their region in a decade (some reports say the worst of all time). Like Hurricane Sandy’s devastating effects on FADS folks elsewhere, this weather event has been highly destructive, resulting in widespread power outages, traffic nightmares, over-flown rivers, and saddest of all, fatalities, throughout major portions of the Middle East.

Now that the storm is finally loosening its grip on the area of his studio, Marwan has been able to send us these photos to share with you. We’ve also included a link to news about the storm. 

We wish Marwan and his staff, as well as all who are affected, a rapid recovery. And we’re pretty sure it won’t be long before FADS, Beirut, makes something positive come from it all, like teaching students how to dance in the snow. . . .

Read more about the Storm at The Daily Star