#TBT: Diana Adams and Irving Davies in “Invitation to the Dance” (1956)
Elegant, enigmatic and versatile, Diana Adams was a muse to the choreographic visionaries of her day. She originated roles in works by Agnes de Mille, Antony Tudor, George Balanchine and Gene Kelly, most famously the edgy pas de deux in Balanchine’s Agon alongside the recently departed Arthur Mitchell. But outside the ballet world she may be better remembered for her role in Gene Kelly’s 1956 film Invitation to the Dance. In a swanky, style-blending duet, Adams’s polished pointework and long lines juxtapose British tap dancer and choreographer Irving Davies’ suave, grounded style.
Invitation to the Dance, which Kelly directed, choreographed and starred in, is made up of three vignettes, each a separate story told through dance. Adams and Davies appear in the section titled “Ring Around the Rosy,” a made-for-film ballet that centers on an alluring bracelet passed between lovers. While the plot is questionable, the dancing is delightful—a gem from the golden age of movie musicals. Their jazzy number combines sultry swing steps, punchy pirouettes and suspended extensions. Undoubtedly, Adam’s dynamic physique and daring movement quality helped inspire the choreographers she worked with to create dances that pushed the boundaries of convention. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!