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( fl 1719–42). Italian choreographer and dancer . He was probably a native of Florence, since he is often cited in librettos as ‘Francesco Aquilanti, Fiorentino’ or ‘da Firenze’. His early choreographic work was concentrated in Venice, where he provided ballets for 17 operas at the Teatro S Giovanni Grisostomo (1721–34; including Leo’s Catone in Utica, Porpora’s Semiramide riconosciuta and works by Gasparini, Orlandini, Vinci and others), and for five operas during Ascension seasons at the Teatro S Samuele (1722–35; including Vivaldi’s Griselda). During this time he is also listed as a choreographer in Reggio Emilia (1725, Porpora’s Didone abbandonata) and as a dancer for opera productions in Turin (1727–8, 1729–30), along with Chiara Aquilanti who may have been his wife, sister or daughter. He spent two seasons in Naples as a choreographer, first for operas at the Teatro S Bartolomeo (1736–7...

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Howard Rye

[Charles; the Man with the Moves]

(b Birmingham, AL, Sept 30, 1913; d Las Vegas, NV, April 19, 2003). American dancer. His parents moved to Buffalo when he was four, and he later began his professional career in the area as a singing waiter. In 1933 he met the dancer Bill (William) Porter, and the two men formed an act, the Rhythm Pals; in 1935 they went to New York, after which they toured widely until 1939, incorporating a residency at Sebastian’s New Cotton Club in Los Angeles in 1938. In 1939 Atkins returned to New York and began dancing with and choreographing for the Cotton Club Boys, appearing with them in the show The Hot Mikado. Soon afterwards he produced a show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in which he met the singer Dotty (Dorothy) Saulter, with whom he formed a professional and personal partnership, touring with Cab Calloway. In September 1943 Atkins joined the army. On his return to civilian life he formed another partnership, Coles & Atkins, with Honi Coles (for details ...

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Howard Rye

(b New Orleans, July 31, 1949). American singer and dancer. He majored in theater studies at Xavier University and then studied drama in Europe. On his return to New Orleans he founded the New Experience Theatre and became involved in jazz by conceiving the show One Mo’ Time, which sought to re-create an evening at the city’s Lyric Theater in 1927. The show received its première at the Toulouse Theater, where it eventually ran for six and a half years. In 1979 a One Mo’ Time company opened in New York at the Village Gate Downstairs, where the show ran for 1300 performances. A road company was formed in 1980, and troupes later toured to Britain and Australia. Bagneris himself sang and danced with each of these companies at various times. With choreography by Pepsi Bethel and music by Orange Kellin and the pianist Lars Edegran, the show featured the New Orleans Blue Serenaders, which included Walter Payton on tuba, the drummers John Robichaux and Herlin Riley, and a starring trumpeter, a role played at various times by Jabbo Smith, Bill Dillard, and Franc Williams. Among featured singers were Lillian Boutté, Sandra Reaves Phillips, and Sylvia “Kuumba” Williams. The Village Gate cast with Smith and Williams is heard on the original cast album ...

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(b St. Louis, MO, June 3, 1906; d Paris, France, April 12, 1975). American dancer and singer, naturalized French. She started out dancing on the streets of St. Louis with the Jones Family Band, a vaudeville troupe. After touring the South with the Dixie Steppers, she gained attention in the touring company of Shuffle Along (1921), the most important African American show of the decade. A member of the female dancing chorus, Baker stood out by making faces and embellishing dance moves, mixing comedy with the erotic persona of the black chorus girl. After appearing on Broadway in The Chocolate Dandies (1924) as That Comedy Chorus Girl, Baker travelled to Paris with La revue nègre (1925), a nightclub revue that introduced the new black performance styles of Broadway to French audiences. Her pas de deux “Danse Sauvage,” which she performed with her partner Joe Alex, introduced an explicit eroticism and exuberant physicality which marked Baker’s initial renown. Famously appearing at times with little more than a string of bananas around her waist, she made an impact on French popular culture that was immediate and enduring....

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Gabriella Biagi Ravenni

(b Lucca, Feb 5, 1742; d after 1798). Italian librettist, dancer and choreographer. A brother of Luigi Boccherini, he made his début as a dancer in Venice in 1757, but his major successes were achieved in Vienna between 1759 and 1767 (for example, Noverre’s revived Médée et Jason) and from 1769 to 1771. He used this success to begin a career as a librettist; he was a member of the Accademia dell’Arcadia (with the name of Argindo Bolimeo) and published a collection of sonnets. His libretto Turno, re dei Rutoli, a dramma tragico (Vienna, 1767), was never set to music, but reveals a progressive approach to drama; its commendation by Calzabigi, appended to the libretto, led to contact with Salieri, who set to music most of Boccherini’s subsequent librettos. These reveal a talent for pantomime and choreography, and handle theatrical conventions with ease. From 1772 to 1775...

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Barry Kernfeld

(b ?New York, 1923). American dancer. As a child he was influenced by Bill Robinson. By 1931 he was working in private houses in New York with Luckey Roberts and his Society Entertainers. Later he sang with Lucky Millinder’s band, was the featured dancer with Erskine Hawkins, and performed with Baby Laurence, who was another influence on his dancing. Around 1943 Briggs spent three weeks dancing for Earl Hines, whose sidemen Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker helped him to adapt his style to bop. He also developed his own version of the paddle and roll dancing technique, to which he added elements of pantomime. Briggs left Hines to work with Count Basie, then sang and danced for Charlie Barnet, with whom he recorded in 1947–9 and 1958. In 1950 he was filmed with Nat “King” Cole’s “trio” (actually a quartet at the time) and Benny Carter’s orchestra in the short ...

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Maureen Needham Costonis

[‘La Camargo’]

(b Brussels, bap. April 15, 1710; d Paris, April 28, 1770). Franco-Flemish dancer. She was engaged as first dancer at the Brussels opera house, after studying in Paris with François Prévost in about 1720. Her Paris Opéra début in Rebel’s ballet Les caractères de la danse (1726) was so sensational that Prévost jealously refused to teach her any longer, and Camargo subsequently studied with Dumoulin and Blondy; it is said that she shortened her skirts to demonstrate her mastery of rapid beating steps and jumps, modelled on those of the male dancers with whom she studied. A fierce rivalry broke out between her and Marie Sallé, which Voltaire characterized as a competition between opposing qualities of lively brilliance and expressive gracefulness. Camargo danced in 79 operas and ballets at the Paris Opéra from 1726 to 1751 (she was absent from the company, 1734–41). Known for her exquisite performance in Rameau’s ...

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Mareia Quintero Rivera

(b San Juan, PR, July 10, 1910; d Carolina, PR, July 21, 1996). American Puerto Rican composer, singer, percussionist, dancer, and drum-maker. A master of traditional bomba and plena, he was one the most prominent figures of Afro-Puerto Rican musical folklore in the 20th century. He is also known for his commitment to passing down these traditions to subsequent generations. Together with his wife, Caridad Brenes, a gifted dancer, he raised a family of skilled practitioners and maintained a lifelong practice of teaching in the community of Villa Palmeras, Santurce, the working-class area where they lived.

Cepeda was a key figure in gaining national and international recognition for Afro-Puerto Rican musical genres. In the 1940s he created an ensemble for radio performances, and he later developed a stage version of bomba, which he presented in San Juan’s major hotels. Several of his compositions were popularized by Ismael Rivera and Rafael Cortijo. Cepeda also developed ties with the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, founded in ...

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Jonas Westover

(b Santurce, PR, March 7, 1950). Puerto Rican singer, dancer, and entertainer. As a girl she honed her skills with ballet and jazz dance lessons. As a young adult she attended the Universidad de Puerto Rico and soon afterwards began to perform as a singer and to make inroads as a model and a dancer. She quickly became a major star in the Latin music world with her first album, Tú no eres hombre (1971). Within a year she was hosting her own television program, “El show de Iris Chacón,” which ran from 1972 until the mid-1980s, when she abruptly quit. As a media personality, Chacón has repeatedly found ways to market herself and keep her image and voice in the spotlight. She has appeared on film (mostly musicals), television, stage, and radio. Her radio shows, including “Iris Chacón Live” and “Caramelo y chocolate,” have run both in the United States and Puerto Rico. Her most famous song is “Spanish Rocket Ship” (...

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Whitney B. Holley

(b New York, NY, Aug 15, 1892; d Los Angeles, CA, Aug 29, 1972). American lyricist, dancer, and comedian. He began his career as a dancer and comedian on the vaudeville circuit and became a Tin Pan Alley lyricist. From Shirley Temple’s innocent banter to Billie Holiday’s sensual musings, Clare had a knack for fitting lyrics perfectly to a performer’s character. “Ma, he’s makin’ eyes at me” (1921, a collaboration with the composer Con Conrad), became a signature tune for the singer Eddie Cantor. Clare’s song “I’d climb the highest mountain (if I knew I’d find you)” (1926, with Lew Brown) was a hit for both Sophie Tucker and Al Jolson. “Please don’t talk about me when I’m gone” (1930, with Sam Stept) was popularized by the singers Bee Palmer and Kate Smith and later used in the Warner Bros. animated short One Froggy Evening...

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Irene Alm

(b Milan, ?1755; d after 1838). Italian dancer, choreographer and composer. A pupil of Noverre, he danced at the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna in 1775 and presented his first choreography at the Teatro S Agostino in Genoa during Carnival 1776. Most of Clerico’s works were created for the opera houses in Venice, where he worked during the 1780s at S Samuele, S Benedetto and S Moisè, and later in his career at the Fenice, and in Milan, where from 1790 he graced the stage of La Scala for nearly 40 years. He also created ballets for opera houses in Turin, Rome, Brescia, Padua, Bologna, Parma and Florence, and returned to work in Vienna, 1798–1800. Clerico often danced in his own ballets with his brother Gaetano and sister Rosa (who in 1786 married the choreographer and dancer Lorenzo Panzieri). Their exceptional abilities as dancers, according to Ritorni, contributed in part to the success of Clerico’s ballets. Not only was he a renowned choreographer and dancer, but he also composed the music for many of his ballets. He was considered the heir to Angiolini, and an important precursor of Viganò. His enormous output totals nearly 80 ballets, many of which were restaged throughout Italy and in foreign theatres....

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Howard Rye

[Charles (Lester); Honey]

(b Philadelphia, April 2, 1911; d New York, Nov 12, 1992). American dancer. His full name appears in his application for social security. He began his career as one of the Three Millers, who appeared at the Lafayette Theatre, New York, in 1931, but this act was not financially successful and Coles went back to Philadelphia. He was again in New York in 1932; during the 1930s he worked with the Lucky Seven Trio, and in 1938–9 he was in a song and dance act with Bert Howell. He met his future partner Cholly Atkins while working with Cab Calloway in 1940; however, from 1943 he was in the army, and so their act was not formed until 1946. Coles and Atkins performed with the bands of Lionel Hampton, Calloway, Count Basie, Billy Eckstine, and Louis Armstrong, and in 1948 they visited England. From 1949 to 1951 they were featured in the show ...

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Barry Kernfeld

(b Smithville, VA, July 18, 1900; d Nov 1967). American clarinetist, singer, and dancer. In his social security application he gave his place of birth as Smithville (not Smithfield, as it has been published elsewhere). At the age of ten he learned clarinet from his father. When his family moved to Philadelphia he formed a band with his brother Jimmy, who played clarinet and saxophone. During the 1920s and 1930s he enjoyed much success with his own variety act; he appeared at the Sunset Café in Chicago and, around 1928, in the show Blackbirds. His best-known recordings are those he made in 1929 and 1930 as the leader of a group which included Jelly Roll Morton. These and his earlier recordings (1927–8), some of which involved Eddie Lang, display a repetitive but striking improvisatory style on clarinet, characterized by conventional blues formulas (sometimes played with a timbre that resembles that of Bubber Miley’s muted trumpet), extended passages of deliberately paced slap-tonguing, and an extraordinary cackling sound. His playing may be heard in all its variety on ...

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Mary Jo Lodge

(b Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec 8, 1939). American director, choreographer, and performer. Trained in classical ballet at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Daniele became a professional dancer at age 14. She performed for several years with ballet companies in South America and Europe and came to the United States in 1964 to learn American-style jazz dance. She made her Broadway debut in the musical What Makes Sammy Run? that same year, which led to several more Broadway roles. She first assisted prominent Broadway director/choreographers Michael Bennett and Bob Fosse before taking the helm herself on numerous shows, first as a choreographer and then adding the director’s role. She choreographed major Broadway productions as The Pirates of Penzance (1981), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985), and Ragtime (1998), and three Woody Allen films, including Mighty Aphrodite (1995). Daniele’s first Broadway production as a director/choreographer was ...

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(b Montpellier, Aug 19, 1742; d Tours, Feb 14, 1806). French dancer, teacher and choreographer . He danced in Lyons in 1757 under Noverre, who described his pupil as a joyful and dramatically expressive dancer. Within two years Dauberval was ballet-master for the Turin opera house. In 1761 he made a successful début at the Paris Opéra in Rameau’s Zaïs. He performed under Noverre in Stuttgart, 1762–4, appeared at the Haymarket, London, in 1764 and returned in 1766 to the Opéra, where he was appointed assistant ballet-master in 1770. He danced in many revivals of works by Lully and Rameau, and in the premières of Dauvergne’s Polyxène (1763), Louis Granier’s Théonis (1767), P.-M. Berton and J. B. de La Borde’s Adèle de Ponthieu (1772) and Gossec’s Sabinus (2nd version; 1774). From 1781 to 1783 he shared the title of ballet-master with Maximilien Gardel; he was ousted as a result of political intrigues....

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John Behling

(b New York, NY, Dec 8, 1925; d Beverly Hills, CA, May 16, 1990). American singer, dancer, and actor. Widely regarded as one of the greatest entertainers of his time, he sang, danced, acted, played several instruments, performed comic impersonations, and excelled at the variety entertainment format popular in American vaudeville, nightclubs, and television. His parents were vaudeville dancers frequently on tour, so Davis spent his earliest years with his grandmother. In 1928 his father took Davis on the road, where he made his debut with Will Mastin’s vaudeville review as Silent Sam, the Dancing Midget. Although he began as a dancer, as his talent and reputation grew he incorporated songs and comic impersonations into his act. His final public performance was in 1989 on a television special, The 60th Anniversary Salute to Sammy Davis, Jr. Throughout his long career Davis performed many styles of music, but he is best known for his jazz-influenced performances of Broadway show tunes. He was a member of the Rat Pack, which included Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and together they set the standard for nightclub-style performance before the dominance of rock and roll....

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b Vienna, Jan 17, 1775; d Addleston, Surrey, Sept 3, 1838). English actress, singer, and dancer . Her father, an orchestral flute player, brought his family to London and she danced on stage as a child, gradually taking juvenile acting and singing parts. From 1790 she built up a repertory of roles in musical pieces, an early success being Macheath in a travesty Beggar’s opera. Hard-working, intelligent and lively, she had parts in many operas by Storace and Kelly. C. H. Wilson wrote, ‘she sings so well, acts so well, dances so well, and looks so well, that she is deservedly a great favourite of the town’. After marrying Charles Kemble in 1806 she generally acted with him but made few appearances after 1813.

BDA DNB (J. Knight) LS ‘Miss De Camp’, Thespian Magazine, 3 (1794),79–80 C. H. Wilson: The Myrtle and Vine (London, 1802) R. Fiske...

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Rainer E. Lotz

(Winston )

(b Philadelphia, May 14, 1889; d New York, May 19, 1939). American dancer, choreographer, and impresario. He went to Ireland in 1903 as a member of a juvenile “piccaninny” group, then toured Europe with Belle Davis (1903–8); his dancing during this period may be seen in the film Die schöne Davis mit ihren drei Negern (1906). Thereafter he worked as an eccentric solo act, and from 1910 into the 1930s was featured as a step dancer in revues in London, Paris, and Berlin; he also toured South America in 1923. In 1925 he starred in La revue nègre, with music provided by Claude Hopkins’s Charleston Jazz Band. He then organized his own revue, Black People (1926), which toured Europe and North Africa with members of Sam Wooding’s band. He organized further revues in Berlin (1926) and New York (1927...

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Kate Van Winkle Keller

(b Paris, France, c1762; d Washington, DC, April 11, 1841). American dancing master, choreographer, and composer of dance music. He was born into a family named Landrin with close connections to the court of Louis XVI. He was a pupil of Maximilien Gardel (1741–87), and for six years he was dancing master for the Paris Opéra. He left Paris three days after the fall of the Bastille in 1789 and arrived in Philadelphia in mid-1790. He changed his name, placing advertisements for his dancing schools as Mr. De Duport. Chiefly a choreographer and teacher of social dancing, Duport blended amateur and professional dancing with theatrical standards of content and performance. He wrote music and created hornpipes and other solo dances for his students, as well as duos such as figured minuets, allemandes, and waltzes; group dances, including complex French contredanses, cotillions, and English country dances; and ballets for his classes to perform at recitals. A music copybook in Duport’s hand traces his creative career from ...

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