Dance History Quiz | Gene Kelly’s Tap Sounds

Fun facts for teachers & students

True or false: In the famous “Singin’ in the Rain” dance that appears in the movie of the same name, Gene Kelly’s tap sounds were dubbed by assistants tapping in buckets of water.

a. True
b. False

b. False

In a 2016 interview with Radio Times, Gene Kelly’s widow Patricia Ward Kelly addressed the myths that still swirl around the iconic “Let’s put on a show” musical film, Singin’ in the Rain. Patricia Kelly said that her husband dubbed his own taps in a difficult process that involved trying to match his movements exactly while he watched footage of himself dancing. He’d listen to the music playback in a headset, while a microphone dangling at his feet picked up his tap sounds. “Gene hated it,” Patricia Kelly said. “He said it was very hard to make sure he didn’t break an ankle.” Gene Kelly and the sound engineer tried a couple of different ways to record what might sound like dancing in water, but in the end the sound engineer was able to mesh “a kind of ‘squish’ sound” with the sound from Gene’s metal taps, she said.