THE DANCER by Leland Cooley


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Leya Marks, the leading lady of this lumpy charade, is, as advertised, a dancer, but instead of the step-after-step inside tracking that dance fans might appreciate, the choreography here calls for old-Hollywood clichÉ after old-Hollywood clichÉ. Start with a sentimental Jewish Depression childhood (""Dance, bubeleh. Dance for papa""), then add the autocratic Russian ballet mistress (""If you stop dancing, you die!""), and by the time gorgeous Leya is ready to blaze across a ballet stage, she's ready for stock selfless gesture #1: she gives up her toe shoes to help unemployed Papa by making big mazuma as a model. In no time, Leya has not only a screen test but two ardent swains: rich, handsome, Jewish Arthur, who joins the Royal Canadian Air Force after a quarrel over Leya's career and is reported missing in action; and rich, handsome, non-Jewish Gardner, who's killed by a WW II torpedo. Now swain-less, budding musical-movie star ""Leya Leslie"" marries wheeler-dealer Ed--but when Arthur turns up alive, she dumps Ed, Hollywood, and Broadway to go back to ""true classical ballet."" Not enough cliches for you? Then how about the tormented homosexual pair of dancers (both die in a car crash, of course), the raunchy gold-digger sidekick, and some messy gangster subplots. When the action moves into the dance and film studios, it's detailed enough to satisfy the undemandingly stagestruck; otherwise, which is most of the time, The Dancer's sluggish crawl makes Tom Murphy's just-competent Ballet! (p. 62) look like a Baryshnikov leap.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1978
Publisher: Stein & Day