Friday, October 18, 2013

Maxine Powell

Maxine Powell died last week. I doubt if any of you knew who she was.

I have no doubt you have admired her workmanship.

In the early 1960s Maxine Powell was hired by an up and coming record company called Motown to run their in-house finishing school. She took raw, young street musicians and taught them how to move like princes and princesses. The graceful, sophisticated sensuality of Martha Reeves, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Smoky Robinson is her doing. She taught them how to perform for the White House and Buckinham Palace while looking sexy as Hell the whole time.

She even taught them how to twerk with style when she found the Supremes practicing the shake:

“ ‘You are protruding the buttocks,’ ” she admonished them. “ ‘Whenever you do a naughty step like the shake, add some class to it. Instead of shaking and acting tough, you should roll your buttocks under and keep smiling all the time.’ Then I showed them. They were shocked that I could do it and at how much better it looked my way.”

I couldn't help remembering Miley Cyrus.  Her recent actions have been defended as simply the way she chooses to play a game that is heavily weighted against women.  Cyrus has chosen a particular way to game the system, but it is far from the only choice available. There are many women who choose to play without appealing to the lowest common denominator of the most puerile members of society.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Beauty and class. That generation had so much of it in places, Motown in particular. I've always loved watching those videos.