Fred Astaire's solo and partnered dances

This is a complete guide to over one hundred and fifty of Fred Astaire's solo and partnered dances compiled from his thirty-one Hollywood musical comedy films produced between 1933 and 1968, his four television specials and his television appearances on "The Hollywood Palace" and "Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre" which cover the period from 1958 to 1968. Further information on the dance routines may be obtained, where available, by clicking on the film links. While Fred Astaire remains the most prolific and influential dancer in cinema history, his corpus is also valued for its inventiveness, virtuosity and precision of execution, indeed a hallmark of Astaire was his determination never to repeat himself. In the field of motion-picture dance, only Gene Kelly is considered to have created work of comparable quality and importance, and even he was unable to match the sheer volume of Astaire's output.

"Roberta" (1935) was the last film where the taps were all recorded live, after this virtually all of Fred Astaire's taps were re-recorded by him in post production, and while this was common practice in Hollywood musicals of the time - for example Ginger Rogers' taps on the Astaire-Rogers pictures were post-recorded by Astaire's collaborator Hermes Pan - it was unusual for a major star to undertake such a tedious and time-consuming task. It was the act of a perfectionist who was by no means a workaholic - between films he would seldom dance, devoting himself instead to his family and favourite pastimes of horseracing and golf.

The controversy over the use of film clips of Astaire's dances

Clips showing Astaire's filmed dances are rarely shown in public today, although they have recently featured in films such as "The Green Mile" and, more controversially [] , in 1997 Dirt Devil commercials. Astaire always retained the sole rights to film clips of his dances and after his death, these rights - which are essentially rights of publicity - passed to his widow Robyn Smith Astaire - who charges a fee schedule for the airing of these clips that some program producers consider uneconomic. Mrs. Astaire has contended that the license fees are moderate and are used to help fund litigation to defend against copyright infringement of her late husband's estate.

In recent years, following the issuance of most of Astaire's films on DVD and the advent of sites such as Youtube which feature many of his most famous dance clips, the public is becoming increasingly exposed to his work.

olo dances

The solo dances are classified according to genre. An asterisk (*) after the entry indicates the backing presence of chorus dancers for at least part of the routine. A (w/ song) after the entry indicates that Astaire sings the song as an introduction or accompaniment to the dance. For the purposes of this classification a tap solo is defined as a routine where a substantial part of the routine is taken up with tap steps.

Tap solos without props

* "Music Makes Me" from "Flying Down to Rio" (1933).

* "Don't Let It Bother You" from "The Gay Divorcee" (1934).

* "It's Just Like Looking For A Needle In A Haystack" from "The Gay Divorcee". (w/ song)

* "I Won't Dance" from "Roberta" (1935). (w/ song)

* "No Strings (Part 1)" from "Top Hat" (1935). (w/ song)

* "I'd Rather Lead A Band" from "Follow the Fleet" (1936). (*) (w/song)

* "Slap That Bass" from "Shall We Dance" (1937). (w/ song)

* "Boogie Barcarolle" from "You'll Never Get Rich" (1941). (*)

* "Since I Kissed My Baby Goodbye" from "You'll Never Get Rich".

* "March Milastaire (A-Stairable Rag)" from "You'll Never Get Rich".

* "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" from "The Sky's the Limit" (1943). (w/ song)

* "Heat Wave (part of)" from "Blue Skies" (1946). (*)

olo sand dances

* "No Strings (reprise)" from "Top Hat" (1935).

* "I Wanna Be A Dancin' Man" from "The Belle of New York" (1952). (w/ song)

olos with cane

* "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" from "Top Hat" (1935). (*) (tap solo) (w/ song)

* "I Can't Be Bothered Now" (w/ furled umbrella) from "A Damsel in Distress" (1937). (tap solo) (w/ song)

* "Audition Dance" from "You Were Never Lovelier" (1942). (tap solo)

* "Test Solo" from "Three Little Words" (1950). (tap solo)

* "The Ritz, Roll And Rock" from "Silk Stockings" (1957). (*) (w/ song)

* "Opening Solo" from "An Evening with Fred Astaire" (1958).

see also "Puttin' On The Ritz" below.

olos with drums

* "Nice Work If You Can Get It" from "A Damsel in Distress" (1937). (tap solo) (w/ song)

* "Drum Crazy" from "Easter Parade" (1948). (w/ song)

* "The History Of The Beat" from "Daddy Long Legs" (1955). (w/ song)

* "Drum Solo Dance" from "Another Evening with Fred Astaire" (1959).

olos using special photographic effects

* "Bojangles Of Harlem" from "Swing Time" (1936). (*) (tap solo)

* "Say It With Firecrackers" from "Holiday Inn" (1942). (tap solo with fireworks)

* "Puttin' on the Ritz" from "Blue Skies" (1946). (tap solo with cane) (w/ song)

* "Steppin' Out With My Baby" (part) from "Easter Parade" (1948). (*) (solo with cane) (w/ song)

* "Shoes With Wings On" from "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949). (tap solo) (w/ song)

* "You're All The World To Me" from "Royal Wedding" (1951). (w/ song)

* "Seeing's Believing" from "The Belle of New York" (1952). (w/ song)

olos with miscellaneous props

* "Golf Solo" (w/ golf clubs) from "Carefree" (1938).

* "I've Got My Eyes On You" (w/ powder puffball and sheet music) from "Broadway Melody Of 1940" (1940). (w/ song)

* "Poor Mr. Chisholm/Hoe Down The Bayou" (w/ conductor's baton and trumpet) from "Second Chorus" (1941). (tap solo)

* "Yolanda" (w/ harp) from "Yolanda and the Thief" (1946). (w/ song)

* "Piano Dance" (w/ piano, cats, and chairs) from "Let's Dance" (1950).

* "Sunday Jumps" (w/ hatstand and gym equipment) from "Royal Wedding" (1951).

* "Let's Kiss and Make Up" (w/ umbrella and cape) from "Funny Face" (1957). (w/ song)

* "Imaginary Prop Dance" (w/ invisible props) from "An Evening with Fred Astaire" (1958).

Other solos

* "A Foggy Day In London Town" from "A Damsel in Distress" (1937). (w/ song)

* "Hello, Hello Who's Your Lady Friend" from "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" (1939). (*) (w/ song)

* "Like Fast/The Afterbeat" (w/song) and "Night Train" (*) from "Another Evening with Fred Astaire" (1959).

* "Top Hat" and "The Cat" from "The Hollywood Palace", Episode 60, (1965).

* "Bugle Call Rag" from "The Hollywood Palace", Episode 81, (1966).

* "When The Idle Poor Become The Idle Rich" from "Finian's Rainbow" (1968). (w/ song)

Partnered dances

Dance routines are grouped by dance partner who, in turn, are listed alphabetically. Astaire also created a number of routines where he danced in turn with a sequence of partners and these are grouped separately.

For many years, Fred Astaire was plagued by interviewers who wished to know who his favourite dance partner was. Ever the gentleman, Astaire would reply either "Bing Crosby" or "Gene Kelly". The closest he may have come to identifying a possible favourite was in "Interview" magazine in June 1973 where he said: "Barrie Chase is the best partner - she's the latest partner that I've had, and believe me, that girl has got it - that girl can dance."

Dances grouped by dance partner

* Jack Buchanan in "I Guess I'll Have To Change My Plan" from "The Band Wagon" (1953).

* George Burns and Gracie Allen in "Put Me To The Test" and "Stiff Upper Lip" from "A Damsel in Distress" (1937).

* Lucille Bremer in
** "This Heart of Mine" and "Limehouse Blues" from "Ziegfeld Follies" (1944,1946).
** "Dream Ballet" and "Coffee Time" from "Yolanda and the Thief" (1945).

* Leslie Caron in "Daydream Sequence (3rd section)", "The Sluefoot" and "Something's Gotta Give" from "Daddy Long Legs" (1955).

* Cyd Charisse in
** "Dancing in the Dark" and "Girl Hunt Ballet" from "The Band Wagon" (1953).
** "It's A Chemical Reaction That's All"/"All of You" and "Fated To Be Mated" from "Silk Stockings" (1957).

* Barrie Chase in
** "Change Partners" and "St. James Infirmary" from "An Evening with Fred Astaire" (1958).
** "That Face", "My Baby"/"Word Jazz" and "Sophisticated Lady" from "Another Evening with Fred Astaire" (1959).
** "Miss Otis Regrets", "The Blues" and "Anitra's Shuffle" from "Astaire Time" (1960).
** "The Shake" from "Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre", Episode 30: "Think Pretty", (1964).
** "Re-animated mannequin dance" from "The Hollywood Palace", Episode 74, (1966).
** "See-See Rider" and "Boom-Boom" from "The Hollywood Palace", Episode 88, (1966).
** "Oh, You Beautiful Doll", "The Look of Love", "Limehouse Blues", and "Chinatown, My Chinatown" from "The Fred Astaire Show" (1968).

* Petula Clark in "Look to the Rainbow" from "Finian's Rainbow" (1968).

* Joan Crawford in "Heigh Ho The Gang's All Here"/"Let's Go Bavarian" from "Dancing Lady" (1933).

* Bing Crosby in
** "I'll Capture Your Heart" from "Holiday Inn" (1942).
** "A Couple Of Song And Dance Men" from "Blue Skies" (1946).

* Virginia Dale in "You're Easy To Dance With" from "Holiday Inn" (1942).

* LeRoy Daniels in "A Shine On My Shoes" from "The Band Wagon" (1953).

* Vera-Ellen in
** "Where Did You Get That Girl?", "Mr. And Mrs. Hoofer At Home", "Nevertheless" and "Thinking Of You" from "Three Little Words" (1950).
** "Baby Doll", "Oops" and "A Bride's Wedding Day Song (Currier And Ives)" from "The Belle of New York" (1952).

* Joan Fontaine in "Things Are Looking Up" from "A Damsel in Distress" (1937).
* Judy Garland in "Beautiful Faces", "Rehearsal/Performance/Audition Medley", "A Couple Of Swells" and "Easter Parade" from "Easter Parade" (1948).

* Paulette Goddard in "I Ain't Hep To That Step But I'll Dig It" from "Second Chorus" (1941).

* Rita Hayworth in
** "Boogie Barcarolle (rehearsal sequence)", "So Near and Yet So Far", and "The Wedding Cakewalk" from "You'll Never Get Rich" (1941).
** "I'm Old Fashioned", "The Shorty George" and "You Were Never Lovelier" from "You Were Never Lovelier" (1942).

* Audrey Hepburn in "Funny Face", "He Loves and She Loves" and "'S Wonderful" from "Funny Face" (1957).

* Harriet Hoctor in "They Can't Take That Away from Me" from "Shall We Dance" (1937).

* Betty Hutton in "Can't Stop Talking", "Oh Them Dudes", "Why Fight The Feeling" and "Tunnel Of Love" from "Let's Dance" (1950).

* Gene Kelly in
** "The Babbitt And The Bromide" from "Ziegfeld Follies" (1944/1946).
** "That's Entertainment!" from "That's Entertainment Part II" (1976).

* Joan Leslie in "A Lot In Common With You" and "My Shining Hour" from "The Sky's the Limit" (1943).

* Ann Miller in "It Only Happens When I Dance With You" from "Easter Parade" (1948).

* George Murphy in "Please Don't Monkey With Broadway" from "Broadway Melody Of 1940" (1940).

* Janis Paige in "Stereophonic Sound" from "Silk Stockings" (1957).

* Hermes Pan in "Me And The Ghost Upstairs" from "Second Chorus" (1941). (deleted number)

* Eleanor Powell in "Jukebox Dance (Italian Cafe Routine)", "I Concentrate on You" and "Begin the Beguine" from "Broadway Melody Of 1940".

* Jane Powell in "Ev'ry Night At Seven", "Open Your Eyes", "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life" and "I Left My Hat In Haiti" from "Royal Wedding" (1951).

* Marjorie Reynolds in "You're Easy To Dance With (Drunk Dance)" and "Be Careful, It's My Heart" from "Holiday Inn" (1942).

* Ginger Rogers in
** "The Carioca" from "Flying Down to Rio" (1933).
** "Night and Day", "The Continental" and "Table Dance (The Continental)" from "The Gay Divorcee" (1934).
** "I'll Be Hard to Handle", "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "I Won't Dance (Reprise)" from "Roberta" (1935).
** "Isn't This a Lovely Day (To Be Caught In the Rain)", "Cheek to Cheek" and "The Piccolino" from "Top Hat" (1935).
** "Let Yourself Go", "I'm Putting all My Eggs in One Basket" and "Let's Face the Music and Dance" from "Follow the Fleet" (1936).
** "Pick Yourself Up", "Waltz In Swing Time" and "Never Gonna Dance" from "Swing Time" (1936).
** "Walking the Dog", "They All Laughed (At Christopher Columbus)", "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" and "Shall We Dance" from "Shall We Dance" (1937).
** "I Used to Be Color Blind", "The Yam" and "Change Partners" from "Carefree" (1938).
** "Waiting For The Robert E. Lee", "Too Much Mustard", "Medley Montage" and "The Last Waltz" from "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" (1939).
** "Swing Trot", "You'd Be Hard To Replace", "Bouncin' The Blues", "My One And Only Highland Fling", "They Can't Take That Away from Me" and "Manhattan Downbeat" from "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949).

* Kay Thompson in "Clap Yo' Hands" from "Funny Face" (1957).

Dances with three or more partners

* "Shootin' The Works For Uncle Sam" from "You'll Never Get Rich" (1941).

* "A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody" from "Blue Skies" (1946).

* "Steppin' Out With My Baby" (w/ Patricia Jackson, Bobbie Priest and Dee Turnell) from "Easter Parade" (1948).

* "Who Wants To Kiss The Bridegroom" from "The Belle of New York" (1952).

* "Daydream Sequence (2nd Section)" from "Daddy Long Legs" (1955).

* "Too Bad" (w/ Peter Lorre, Jules Munshin, Barrie Chase et al) from "Silk Stockings" (1957).

* "Man With The Blues" from "An Evening with Fred Astaire" (1958).

Choreographic collaborators

Astaire nearly always collaborated with other choreographers, and with some exceptions they acted as assistants with Astaire taking the lead creative role in the solos and partnered dances, as he had done with his sister Adele during their long theatrical career. They also served a valuable role in the choreography of choruses, an area which Astaire tended to avoid. As was the custom in the 1930's, they received sole choreography credit, resulting in a perception by some that Astaire was merely a performer. The only occasion he worked without an assistant was in "The Sky's the Limit" (1943).

* Robert Alton in "You'll Never Get Rich" (1941), "Ziegfeld Follies" (1944/1946), "Easter Parade" (1948), "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), and "The Belle of New York" (1952).

* Nick Castle Snr. in "Royal Wedding" (1951).

* Bobby Connolly in "Broadway Melody of 1940" (1940).

* Danny Dare in "Holiday Inn" (1942).

* Dave Gould in "Flying Down to Rio" (1933) and "The Gay Divorcee" (1934).

* Michael Kidd in "The Band Wagon" (1953).

* Sammy Lee in "Dancing Lady" (1933).

* Eugene Loring in "Ziegfeld Follies" (1944/1946), "Yolanda and the Thief" (1945), "Funny Face" (1957) and the numbers not involving Astaire in "Silk Stockings" (1957).
* Hermes Pan in "Flying Down to Rio" (1933) (as assistant to Dave Gould), "The Gay Divorcee" (1934) (as assistant to Dave Gould), "Roberta" (1935), "Top Hat" (1935), "Follow the Fleet" (1936), "Swing Time" (1936), "Shall We Dance" (1937), "A Damsel in Distress" (1937), "Carefree" (1938), "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" (1939), "Second Chorus" (1941), "Blue Skies" (1946), the "Shoes With Wings On" number from "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), "Three Little Words" (1950), "Let's Dance" (1950), all numbers involving Astaire in "Silk Stockings" (1957), "An Evening with Fred Astaire" (1958), "Another Evening with Fred Astaire" (1959), "Astaire Time" (1960), "Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre", Episode 30: "Think Pretty" (1964), "The Hollywood Palace" Episodes 60 (1965), 74, 88 (1966) and "Finian's Rainbow" (1968).

* Val Raset in "You Were Never Lovelier" (1942).

* Dave Robel in the "Puttin' On The Ritz" number in "Blue Skies" (1946), and "Daddy Long Legs" (1955).

* Herbert Ross in "The Fred Astaire Show" (1968).


* Fred Astaire: "Steps in Time", 1959, multiple reprints.
* Carol Saltus: "Astaire!", Interview Magazine, June 1973.
* John Mueller: "Astaire Dancing - The Musical Films of Fred Astaire", Knopf 1985, ISBN 0-394-51654-0
* Larry Billman: "Fred Astaire - A Bio-bibliography", Greenwood Press 1997, ISBN 0-313-29010-5

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