The “How To” cartoons have always been my favourite Disney shorts. They’re the funniest, and there are quite a lot of good visuals. Also, of the Big Three, Goofy is probably my favourite. I’ve got a game where the tokens are all Disney characters, and I don’t have a strong attachment to any of them. The kids bicker over who gets which, and I take what’s left, generally. But Goofy’s not bad, and he’s a good fit for this series of cartoons. Especially in this era, where Goofy’s in the George Geef years and is the sort of person you can imagine taking a partner for a spin around the dance floor.
Alas, George Geef has two left feet. Literally. Still, he’s determined to learn, to be part of the grand dance tradition. He initially tries with some cut-outs of feet, which he shuffles like cards and tosses at random. You know, the way dance steps work. He then goes to a dance studio, where he’s shown attempting assorted ethnic dances, which are definitely the kind of steps you need to learn. He then borrows a dress form as a trial dance partner.
1953 was an interesting era in the history of Western dance. You’d still get people doing dances with specific partners and measured steps and so forth; I’m aware M*A*S*H isn’t made at the time it’s set, but Hawkeye and Kellye are both specifically said to be great at the Lindy. The Twist was still five years away—seven from its highest success. The more freeform dances of the ‘60s were obviously still some time away. But the idea that you needed to take classes and do proper dances was on its last legs, if you will, and of course it’s when Goofy would learn how to dance.
The short briefly touches on one of the common uses of dance, but it does so using the old stereotype of a caveman’s clubbing a woman on the head and dragging her off by the hair. (We don’t know a lot about our ancestors’ social structures, but repeated head trauma is not the best tactic to be sure someone can care for children.) Other than that, Dance As Courtship is basically not mentioned. There’s a rich, involved history there, and instead, we get the ritual versions of dance. None of which are European or more recent than Ancient Egypt, so that’s odd.
This isn’t the best of the How-To shorts, but it’s fun enough. Oddly, it credits the Firehouse Five Plus Two, the band, a delightful group made up of animators that routinely performed at Disneyland. However, this is still the era where Pinto Colvig wasn’t credited. Also, both June Foray and Lucille Williams are listed on IMDb as Mrs. Geef, though Goofy doesn’t appear to be married in this and certainly isn’t a bigamist. It also lists two narrators. It’s just possible that the IMDb page on this one has a few errors.
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