‘Shivaree’ was a Los Angeles-based music variety show that ran in syndication from 1965 to 1966. It was created and hosted by KFWB-AM personality Gene Weed, LA’s top nighttime DJ at the time. Although it had only a brief run it attracted an enviable roster of talent, featuring performers such as James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Jackie Wilson, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Simon and Garfunkel and more.
And then there were the ‘Shivaree Dancers’. My fondness for early-to-mid 60s variety shows (‘Hullabaloo’, ‘Shindig’ etc.) is based not on the acts they featured but on their stock company of boy and girl performers–the semi-anonymous ‘chorus line’ (a reductive term I realize) that is filled with major talent, but who are somehow fated to always remain in the background. Fortunately, these dancers were sometimes given the chance to step forward with a number all their own. They almost always made the most of the opportunity, choreographing gymnastic and strikingly stylized routines to show off their considerable skills. Above is an example from a ‘Shivaree’ show, featuring dancer/choreographer Bobby Banas (AKA Joyboy in ‘West Side Story’). Banas dances to ‘A Taste Of Honey’ and has me winded just watching him. About ten years ago, Banas (still alive and well) became a YouTube star when a video of him dancing ‘The Nitty-Gritty’ on an old Judy Garland show somehow gained traction, attracting gazillions of views and earning him the honorary title ‘Best Dancer-Boy Ever’. Enjoy!
Coincidentally, I just happened to see an appearance by Bobby Banas on a Get Smart rerun recently!