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Atkins, Cholly  

Howard Rye

[Charles; the Man with the Moves]

(b Birmingham, AL, Sept 30, 1913; d Las Vegas, NV, April 19, 2003). American dancer. Tennessee Birth Records, a 1944 marriage certificate, and the Nevada Death Index document his vital records. 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 1936 Atkins married the Cotton Club dancer Catherine Gayle Williams, who enjoyed a distinguished career in social work in Iowa after her retirement from show business in 1942. In 1939 he returned to New York and began dancing with and choreographing for the Cotton Club Boys, appearing with them in the show ...


Chacón, Iris  

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” (...


Daniele, Graciela  

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 ...


Foster, Sutton  

Sharon O’Connell Campbell

(Lenore )

(b Statesboro, GA, March 18, 1975). American performer. Embodying the “triple-threat” performance model of singer, actor, and dancer, Sutton Foster enjoyed a rapid rise to musical theater stardom. Foster debuted on Broadway in 1993 as a chorus member and understudy for Eponine in Les Misérables (opened 1987), then played Sandy Dumbrowski in Grease (1994). She appeared in Annie (1997) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (1997). Foster created the role of Thoroughly Modern Millie’s Millie Dillmount in California tryouts in 2000. Despite being little-known, she was cast for the show’s Broadway (2002) opening; her performance earned Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Musical, and an Astaire Award for Best Female Dancer. Subsequently, Foster created the roles of Jo in Little Women (2005), Janet Van De Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone (...


Gaines, Will  

Howard Rye

[Royce Edward]

(b Baltimore, April 6, 1928; d Leigh-on-Sea, England, May 7, 2014). American tap-dancer. He grew up in Detroit, where in an amateur show he won a prize of a job at the Flame Club, which he held for 13 weeks. In the 1950s he worked with Lionel Hampton and Cab Calloway’s Cotton Club Show (1957), among others, and also undertook tours nationwide and with the USO; a later USO tour brought him to Europe in 1962. In 1963 Gaines traveled to London to perform at the Pigalle nightclub; he then settled in Britain and resided for many years in Rotherham, Yorkshire. Initially he worked alternately in Britain and in Germany. In Britain he was active both as a swing dancer with Alex Welsh and Humphrey Lyttelton and also in bop or free improvisation contexts with Ronnie Scott, Stan Tracey, Derek Bailey, John Stevens, and many others. In ...


João Grande  

Greg Downey

[Mestre João Grande; dos Santos, João Olivera]

(b Itají, Bahia, Brazil, Jan 15, 1933). Brazilian teacher and master practitioner of capoeira angola. After migrating from rural Bahia to Salvador, he learned capoeira in the Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola under the legendary mestre Vicente Ferreira Pastinha. Influenced also by such veteran practitioners as Cobrinha Verde and Barbosa, he became a widely respected capoeirista, adept at the art’s movements, songs, and instrumental music, especially that of the berimbau, a musical bow. João Grande and three other students accompanied Pastinha to Senegal for the first World Festival of Black Arts in 1966. He later joined Viva Bahia, a folk dance troupe directed by Emília Biancardi, touring Europe in 1976 and was publicly recognized as a successor by Pastinha. In 1990 he moved to New York, where he established the Capoeira Angola Center of João Grande. He has received a medal from the Brazilian ministry of sports (...


Kitt, Eartha  

Jonas Westover

[Keith, Mae Eartha ]

(b North, SC, Jan 17, 1927; Weston, CT, Dec 25, 2008). American singer, actress, and dancer. Kitt came from a poor family, but managed to make her way into show business. Her first break came in 1943 when she was hired by the Katherine Dunham Company as a dancer, and she remained with that organization until 1948. Given the opportunity to perform throughout Europe, Kitt learned French and incorporated it into her vocal performances at cabarets. Kitt began to record in the early 1950s, and her distinctive voice—somewhat deep, purposefully raspy, and openly seductive—made her an African American sex symbol. Her early hits include a cover of “Let’s Do It” by Cole Porter, “C’est si bon,” “Love for Sale,” “Je cherche un homme,” and “Mink, Schmink.” Kitt’s breakout Broadway appearance came when she appeared in the revue, New Faces of 1952, singing “Monotonous,” which she revived for a ...


Lopez, Jennifer (Lynn)  

J. Ryan Bodiford

[J.Lo ]

(b Bronx, NY, July 24, 1969). American Puerto Rican actress, singer, dancer, producer, and entrepreneur. She is the highest paid Latina actress to date and has attracted similar commercial appeal as a pop, hip hop, and Latin-influenced recording artist, selling over 55 million albums in the first decade of her musical career.

The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, Lopez participated in minor film and theater productions from an early age. Following high school, she attended numerous auditions before landing her first major gig in 1991 as a “fly girl” dancer on the sketch-comedy program In Living Color. In 1997 she gained attention with her Golden Globe-nominated performance in the film Selena. She has since starred in box office hits such as The Wedding Planner (2001), Maid in Manhattan (2002), and Monster in Law (2005).

Already an established actress, Lopez launched her singing career in ...


Minnelli, Liza  

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

(May )

(b Los Angeles, Mar 12, 1946). American actress, singer and dancer, the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. She made her film début while still a toddler in the Judy Garland vehicle In the Good Old Summertime (1949). In her late teens she began to establish herself as a singer and dancer in nightclubs and on stage, and her New York début was as Ethel Hofflinger in the off-Broadway Best Foot Forward (1963). She toured as Lili in Carnival! (1964) before playing her Tony-winning title role in Flora, the Red Menace (1965). She also starred in a one-woman show Liza (1974) and substituted for Gwen Verdon in Chicago (1975). With her Academy Award-winning film role as Sally Bowles in Cabaret (1972), she solidified her reputation as an interpreter of the work of Kander and Ebb, whose stage musical ...


Park, Sue-Yeon  

Megan E. Hill

(b Ganghwa Island, South Korea, 1954). South Korean dancer, naturalized American. She was exposed to traditional Korean dance from a young age through the shamanistic Buddhist rituals that her family hosted when she was a child. At the age of four she moved with her family to the capital city of Seoul. From age six she was encouraged by her parents to study dance, and at age 13 she entered an art and performance school (kwonbon). She immigrated to the United States after she finished a tour there in 1981.

Park became involved with the Korean immigrant community in New York, including the Association for Korean Performing Arts. She later established a branch of the Korean Traditional Music Association in New York (1993) under the appellation Korean Traditional Performing Arts Association and founded Sounds of Korea, a performance group dedicated to preserving Korea’s traditional performing arts....



J. Ryan Bodiford

[Mebarak Ripoll, Shakira Isabel ]

(b Barranquilla, Colombia, Feb 2, 1977). American Singer, songwriter, dancer, and philanthropist. The daughter of a Colombian mother and an American-born father of Lebanese descent, Shakira demonstrated her talents in the performing arts at an early age. After winning local talent competitions and establishing a dance troupe at the modeling school which she attended, Shakira began her professional career at age 13 when she was awarded a three-album record deal with Sony Music. She has since become a globally renowned singer, songwriter, dancer, and philanthropist, whose musical style incorporates rock, pop, Latin rhythms, and Arabic infusions.

Following two commercial flops, Shakira established her popularity throughout Latin America with her 1996 release, Pies descalzos. This album produced a series of pan–Latin American hits and sold more than four million copies. Her fan base was extended further into the non-Spanish speaking world with the Middle Eastern tinged worldwide hit, “Ojos así,” produced by Emilio Estefan and included on the album ...


Slyde, Jimmy  

Howard Rye

[Godbolt, Jimmy ]

(b Atlanta, Oct 2, 1927; d Hanson, MA, May 16, 2008). American tap-dancer. His family moved to Boston while he was still a baby. He received dance tuition from 1939 and later studied violin at the New England Conservatory. In 1949 he made his professional début with the tap-dancer Jimmy Mitchell, known as Sir Slyde; they called themselves the Slyde Brothers, and it was at this point that he adopted the stage name Jimmy Slyde. In the 1950s he toured seaside resorts along the East Coast with various shows and worked in California with Teddy Edwards and Hampton Hawes. He visited Europe in 1966 and toured South America with the Legends of Jazz in the show 1000 Years of Jazz in the early 1970s. In 1972 he returned to Europe with Milt Buckner and Jo Jones and settled in France, where he recorded Just You, Just Me (...


Thomas, Rufus  

Rob Bowman

(b Cayce, MS, March 27, 1917; d Memphis, TN, Dec 15, 2001). American singer, songwriter, dancer, comedian, and radio announcer. One of Thomas’s earliest gigs was as part of the dance team Rufus and Johnny with the legendary Rabbit Foot Minstrels. He later forged a distinguished career as a comic (in the duo “Rufus and Bones”) and master of ceremonies at all of the important black theaters in Memphis. In the early 1950s Thomas hosted the daily “Sepia Swing Club” and “Hoot ‘n’ Holler” shows on local black appeal radio station WDIA. Beginning in 1949, Thomas recorded for Star Talent, Meteor, Chess, and, most notably, Memphis’ Sun Records before signing with Satellite (soon-to-be Stax) Records in 1960. His most successful recording pre-Stax was an answer song conceived as a response to Big Mama Thornton’s R&B hit “Hound Dog.” Titled “Bear Cat” and released in 1953, the record was Sun’s first bona-fide hit, peaking at number three on ...


Vítková, Lucie  

Ian Mikyska

(b Boskovice, 19 Jan 1984).Czech composer and performer (voice, accordion, and tap dance). She studied the accordion (2004–10) and composition (2007–8) at the Brno Conservatory, and composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (with martin smolka and Peter Graham[1]). She also studied as an exchange student at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the California Institute of the Arts (with michael pisaro), the Universität der Künste Berlin (with Marc Sabat), and Columbia University (with george e. lewis).

While she often works with elements outside of music, there is almost always an intense engagement with direct listening, often arrived at through intense focus on very limited material. Sources for her work include Morse code, maps of garments which she turns into scores (Shirt for Harp, Oboe, and Accordion; Jacket for Ensemble), field recordings which she notates descriptively and then asks musicians to interpret the notation (...