|The great Leopold Stokowski and Mickey Mouse.|
How did this odd combination come about?
No, this all really came about because I was thinking about going on a diet. As a rather odd classical music and movie lover with brain synapse problems, this naturally led my thoughts to Fantasia, "The Dance of the Hours," and the hippos in tutus that we all love. (Now, let me hasten to add that I don't think I need a diet that badly.) OK, now that we've cleared that up, let us continue.
I am working on an article for my blog that is rather heavy (I swear that was accidental). I needed a break from it, and I also needed to lighten up personally. Strange things are happening here at CasaClassicBecky, and I want something that will make me laugh so hard I choke. Doesn't sound like fun when you put it that way, but it is! I found out some interesting things about how "The Dance of the Hours" was made as well. For instance, I never knew that Walt Disney hired dancers from the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo to perform the ballet so that the animators would have reference to recreate the dance movements for the ostriches, hippos and alligators. These dancers were not just the chorus, either -- the most surprising participant was Leonide Massine, premiere Russian dancer and choreographer whom many classic film mavens know as the demonic shoemaker from The Red Shoes. The wonderful Cyd Charisse, a classically trained dancer, also took part.
|The great Massine|
|Dad always called Cyd "The Legs"...|
|Sure, I can see the resemblance...|
As long as we are talking about the interest that true artists had in being involved with Fantasia, this little anecdote is the one that fascinated me most. Stokowski was a giant in the world of classical music. He inspired such awe in audiences and other artists that everybody was practically afraid of him, including, apparently, Walt Disney. Following is a quote from the Internet Movie Database:
"Walt Disney himself related the story of a chance meeting with Leopold Stokowski at Chasen's. They agreed to have dinner together. As they talked, Disney told of his plans to do "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and other possible projects using classical music with animation. Disney said that he was stunned when Stokowski, then one of the two most famous conductors in the country (the other being Arturo Toscanini), responded by saying, "I would like to conduct that for you." It was an offer he couldn't pass up."
Apparently, many artists at the height of their talents and careers could see the great potential in Disney's ambitious project. And they were so right.
Now it's time to laugh. Here is "The Dance of the Hours" as presented in Fantasia in all its hilarious glory. I can feel the corners of my lips starting to curl upward already...