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Invitation to the Dance [Gene Kelly]

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Invitation to the Dance (1956) starring Gene Kelly
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Invitation to the Dance (1956) starring Gene Kelly

Synopsis of Invitation to the Dance

Invitation to the Dance is an anthology of three stories in dance. Gene Kelly wrote, directed, choreographed, and stars. The first story deals with a mime-like Pagliacci comic drama. The second is about a bracelet passed from owner to owner. The final is an Arabian Night adventure featuring animated cartoon characters drawn by the Hanna-Barbera animators.


Invitation to the Dance is an anthology of three stories, all starring Gene Kelly. There’s no speech throughout the film, but the stories are touching nonetheless. Especially the first.


Circus - Gene Kelly as the white face clown, in love with another performer, who meets a tragic end in Invitation to the Dance

Circus is the story of a romantic triangle, set in a circus. Our protagonist is a white face clown, played by Gene Kelly. He’s in live with circus aerialist Claire Sombert. But, she’s in love with the high wire walker, Igor Youskevitch. The clown professes his love to her, but her lover thinks she’s unfaithful to her, and they break up. The clown tries to prove that he’s worthy of her love by walking the high wire. Instead, he falls to his death. And, dying, he urges the two lovers to reconcile.

Ring Around the Rosy

Ring Around the Rosy

Like Tales of Manhattan , Ring Around the Rosy follows a piece of jewelry as it passes from owner to owner. It’s set to original music by André Previn. The bracelet is originally given by a husband to his wife, who gives it to an artist, who gives it to a model, who gives it to her boyfriend, who gives it to … end up in the hands of a Hatcheck Girl. She returns home to her boyfriend, a Marine (Gene Kelly). When he sees the bracelet, he angrily takes it and storms out. Coming out of a bar, he encounters a streetwalker and dances with her. He gives her the bracelet before walking off. The next person she meets is the Husband who bought the bracelet. He recognizes it, buys it back, and reunites with his wife, returning it to her.

Sinbad the Sailor

Gene Kelly as Sinbad the Sailor

The last segment, Sinbad the Sailor, is the most light hearted of the stories. It’s nearly all animation, with Gene Kelly and a young boy inserted. Sinbad‘s a funny telling of the Genie in the lamp from the Arabian Nights. It’s set to the music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov‘s Scheherazade, adapted by Roger Edens.

Editorial review Invitation to the Dance

Academy Award(r) winner* Gene Kelly brings his remarkable talents as star, director and choreographer to this glittering gala of music, dance and pantomime – and the result is a lush, one-of-a-kind musical flight of fancy. The film has three episodes, each with its own distinct period and mood.

  1. In Circus, a clown (Kelly) in a small carnival troupe is hopelessly in love with the show’s high-wire walker.
  2. Ring Around the Rosy is a satiric tale about a bracelet which travels from the wrist of one fickle lover to another.
  3. Sinbad the Sailor blends live action and animation as Kelly dances his way into an Arabian Nights world after rubbing Aladdin’s Lamp.

Showcasing talents from ballet companies of New York, Paris, London and Rome, this imaginative tour de force is a must-see for dance lovers everywhere!

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