Been Rich All My Life | Chicago Reader

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81 minutes

Heather Lyn MacDonald's 2005 video documentary profiles the Silver Belles, an octogenarian tap-dance troupe in New York whose members worked as chorus girls in the great Harlem jazz clubs of the 30s. Present-day sequences deliver the expected golden-girls uplift, as the four dancers rehearse their sedate show and perform in sequined bowlers and blouses to appreciative audiences; vintage photos and archival footage conjure up the glamour of a bygone era, when various members performed with Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Jimmy Lunceford. The documentary becomes more poignant and substantial when old age begins to seriously disable some of the dancers, reminding us of the fear and despair that come with surrendering one's mobility.

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