Been Rich All My Life (2005)

Genres - Culture & Society, Dance  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Jazz & Modern Dance, Social History  |   Countries - United States   |  
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Synopsis by Mark Deming

The Silver Belles are one of America's most unusual and inspiring dance troupes. Comprised of five women between the ages of 84 and 96, The Silver Belles are veteran tap dancers and chorus girls who first got to know one another when they performed in some of New York's hottest nightspots during the Harlem Renaissance of the '30s, sharing stages with the likes of Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Jimmie Lunceford. The dancers -- Bertye Lou Wood, Cleo Hayes, Elaine Ellis, Fay Ray, and Marion Coles -- toured the country with different shows and entertained American troops in Europe during World War II, but when Big Band jazz fell out of favor and nightclubs stopped using chorus dancers, most of the women took up other work. But the women stayed friends, and in 1985 the retired hoofers decided to put their tap shoes back on. With the help of their manager and friend Geri Kennedy, they've been performing regularly for over a decade, keeping the traditions of jazz dancing alive and challenging stereotypes about the elderly. Been Rich All My Life is a documentary which looks at the illustrious past and surprising present of The Silver Belles, and offers a glimpse at these five remarkable women as they share their love for dance and confront the challenges that still face them.




chorus-girl, dance-troupe, elderly, jazz-dance, tap-dance