In my 2011 post on the "Father of Modern Jazz Dance" Jack Cole, I had included a production still of Cole dancing on the American TV show Hollywood Palace (1965). The image captured an important performance for Cole fans and historians because unlike the tight Bharatanatyam inspirations in Kismet (1955) for which Cole was behind the camera choreographing, the Hollywood Palace image captured a performance featuring Cole himself on screen dancing and, given the choice of costuming, likely featured choreography even closer to the Bharatanatyam source than usual.
I assumed the Hollywood Palace footage was lost or locked away in some LA archive somewhere which would be a shame since the extant visual footage of Cole himself dancing in frame is limited and mostly shows him outfitted in American-style clothing with the exception of a brief and tantalizing clip of him in Indian-inspired dress. But my pessimism was misplaced. Thanks to YouTuber Alfred MrDance, we finally get to see the Hollywood Palace footage! I first discovered the clip in its posting at the "Jack Cole, one of the greatest choreographers and dancers ever" Facebook page with different music overlaid. Inquiring by comment referred me to the original video on YouTube. Here it is in all its rare glory:
What soon becomes apparent is that much of the choreography here is the same as or similar to that seen a decade earlier in "Not Since Nineveh" and "Diwan Dances, Pt 1" from Kismet (1955). The Indian-inspired costuming had raised my hopes for something a bit closer to its Indian roots than Cole's standard "Hindu Swing" style. However, the choreography does offer us a few new and tantalizing segments to see Cole perform most notably in those undulating hips at 2:34!
But overall, what I noticed most in this performance of Cole is his aloofness and fatigue. Writings about Cole are open about his tendency to look at the floor and reflect his intense concentration in his face when he danced, and he had a problem with one eye that crossed towards his nose and seemed to cause him to be self-conscious. Unlike the "cool and detached" feel the floor-gazing aloofness lent some of his earlier dance footage (like this "Sing, Sing, Sing" TV performance where it is ideal), in the Hollywood Palace footage it just looks like he is disinterested and would rather be somewhere else. For someone who choreographed and danced so crisply in available footage from earlier years (and was known for tight precision and isolation in movement), his tired bodily stance and the lack of completion in his movements here is surprising. Maybe it was an off day for him? Granted, he was in his fifties here (and sadly died almost a decade later).
I had commented last July on my blog's Facebook page about the increased interest I had noticed in Jack Cole's dance and legacy in the media and in the "Hindu Swing" production of the dancer Namita Kapoor. The Hollywood Palace video is a welcome addition to the collective remembrance of Cole on the interwebs and beyond...