the final dance scene in Flashdance, is it a man doing the dancing? THE 1983 film Flashdance tells the story of Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals), who works as a welder by day and an exotic dancer at a club in the evenings. She wants to go to a prestigious dance school in Pittsburgh and gets her chance in the audition sequence at the end of the film. The sequence is set to the Academy Award-winning song Flashdance... What A Feeling performed by Irene Cara.
It’s no secret that Jennifer Beals did almost none of the dancing in the film, though some people are still surprised to learn this.
The main dance double for 18-year-old Beals was French actress Marine Jahan. The audition sequence features four people as Alex, with Beals speaking and Jahan in a black leotard doing ballet and disco-dancing.
There are brief contributions by gymnast Sharon Shapiro, who performs a slowmotion leap through the air, and the breakdancing shot where Alex spins on the floor was doubled by male dancer Crazy Legs (Richard Colón).
Crazy Legs can also be seen earlier in the film as the breakdancer whom Alex and her friend Jeanie meet in the street.
The film’s screenwriter Joe Eszterhas claimed that you can see Colón’s moustache in the breakdancing shot, though a close look at the DVD suggests this is untrue.
Most of the dance sequences use a combination of dim lighting and rapid editing to avoid showing the dancer’s face. But in a shot during the audition where Alex points a finger at each of the judges in turn, we get a glimpse of the dancer’s face and it clearly isn’t Beals.
Arguably, the best sequence in the film is set to the song Maniac by Michael Sembello. This shows Alex training at home and cleverly disguises the fact that Jahan rather than Beals is the main performer.
Ian MacMillan, Paignton, Devon. QUESTIONOn
a recent visit to Prague, I was offered a drink they called ‘Green’ and expected it to be absinthe, but it wasn’t. It was, however, equally alcoholic. What was it? THIS is a variation of absinthe, sometimes called Bohemian-style or Czech-style anise-free absinthe or just absinth (without the ‘e’).
Brewed in the Czech Republic, possibly since the Twenties, it contains little to no anise, fennel or other herbs found in absinthe. Often the only similarities with its traditional counterpart is the use of wormwood and a high alcohol content.
As there are few legal definitions for absinthe, Czech producers have taken advantage of its romantic 19th-century associations and psychoactive reputation to market their products under a similar name, but it could be considered a completely different product.
John Edwards, Stevenage, Herts. THERE have been many attempts to provide a rational explanation for the phenomenon of the biblical burning bush and to establish the identity of a plant species that might burn without being destroyed
The bushy perennial Dictamnus albus is considered the best candidate. It grows about 60cm high and its large, elegant flowers, which form a loose pyramidal spike, vary in colour from pale purple to white; QUESTIONIs
there a plant that bursts into flame spontaneously, explaining the burning bush story in the Bible? they can even be striped. It grows in woods in warm places and is a popular garden plant for its flowers and for fragrance.
Dictamnus albus grows abundantly in the Black Sea coastal areas of North Caucasus and the Crimea peninsula.
It is commonly called fraxinella, dittany and, more pertinently, gas plant or burning bush.
During the summer, the plant excretes a pungent lemon- smelling oil called dictagymnin. This oil breaks down, giving off volatile gases. When a naked flame is held near the flowers and seedpods, the plant is briefly enveloped by a blue flame.
There have been reports of this happening spontaneously in particularly hot weather. The flame, however, burns so quickly that it doesn’t consume or even damage the plant.
This recalls Exodus 3.2: ‘ And the angel of the Lord appeared unto [Moses] in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.’ The problem is that the lighting up of a Dictamnus is not overly impressive or long lived and would hardly have provided the angel time to deliver his message to Moses.
Keith Winterton, Cambridge. QUESTIONAt
a low point in his career in the early Fifties, Frank Sinatra made a low-key tour of this country, playing at times to half-full houses. In which cities and theatres did he appear? FURTHER to earlier answers, bookings for Sinatra’s dates in the Midlands were so dire that the management pleaded with me to come down from Birmingham to interview him in Coventry, hoping for a plug in the gossip column I wrote for the Evening Despatch newspaper.
Reluctantly, I agreed to a 15-minute chat in the bar of the Leofric Hotel.
Sinatra told me he had just heard from his Hollywood agent that he might get his first non-singing role in a movie. The film was From Here To Eternity.
I was so unimpressed by this news that it warranted no more than a paragraph in my column.
However, a dozen years later, as a Fleet Street showbiz editor, I had to bribe my way into the Abbey Road studios just to catch a glimpse of the star recording his Great Songs Of Great Britain album.
Martin Jackson, Hawkhurst, Kent. IN THE early Fifties, Frank Sinatra was one of a number of American stars signed up by London Palladium boss Val Parnell to top the bill Monday to Saturday.
On the Sunday, usually a day off in the theatre, they did an extra show, often at the Granada cinema in Tooting, South London.
I was a cub reporter on the local paper, the Balham News, and interviewed Sinatra, a dour man who didn’t like the Press, before his sell-out performance.
I have happier memories of others who performed under this arrangement: Frankie Laine, Johnnie Ray and Guy Mitchell. I interviewed them all at their London hotel, either the Savoy or the Dorchester.
In those days of rationing, they offered me tea and cakes and this hungry teenage reporter was well pleased.
I also interviewed John Wayne at the Granada and persuaded him to drive a Young’s brewery dray and pair down Tooting High Street, cracking a whip and hollering ‘Yahoo!’ to the amazement of pass- ing shoppers. It made the front page with a big picture and the kindly star sent me a note of thanks.
Bill Gardner, Cirencester. QUESTIONWere
there any reported sightings of UFOs in Victorian times? FURTHER to the earlier answer, strange happenings were reported during the reign of Charles II.
The vicar of Bolton, the Rev. Oliver Heywood, wrote in his diary: ‘On Thursday night, March 2, 1664, some company came to my house and saw a strange flaming northwards. We all went out to look at it; sometimes it was so bright, one could not see clearly on the ground and it shone in at windows.’
Describing his thoughts on the matter, he said: ‘ My apprehension was very formidable to behold.’
The next entry is: ‘It was seen again the night after in the west, there is also a strange noise in the air heard in many parts this winter, they are called Gabriel Ratchets by country people.
‘There is another noise heard in the air, which here they call nightwhistlers, which make a whizzing, as if a piece of timber that arrives with violence through the air.’
Owen Taylor, Ormskirk, Lancs.
Just an act: Jennifer Beals shared her role in Flashdance