The name Busby Berkeley is one of the most highly revered names in choreography. A director and choreographer with a keen eye for geometric patterns and militant precision, Berkeley’s production numbers enhanced some of Hollywood’s earliest musicals. From his initial years on Broadway to the film industry, Berkeley developed and retained a signature style that would go on to influence other artists.
Delving from his own background in the military, Berkeley implemented his tactics of spot-on exactness in his routines and choreography. He coupled them with kinetic use of the camera and captured his numbers with innovative angles and perspectives. Though his numbers would begin with an ordinary or everyday task, they would gradually evolve into a fantastic, surreal, overblown scenario–one that could in no way be captured on a typical stage or be seen by a seated audience member. By the end of the number, the dance would bookend back to where it started. Berkeley’s style and creativity were the perfect remedies of escapism for the weary masses struggling through the Great Depression.
Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley by Jeffrey Spivak is an excellent portrait of Berkeley and his influence upon music and choreography. This new paperback release from the University Press of Kentucky draws from personal letters, interviews, studio memoranda, and Berkeley’s private memoirs to depict the life of Berkeley.
Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley is available for purchase via the University Press of Kentucky.