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Claude Conyers

[Eugene Louis Facciuto]

(b Steubenville, OH, March 20, 1925; d New York, April 7, 2015). American jazz dance innovator and teacher. Coached by his brother, he developed an act with singing, dancing, and acrobatic tricks that made him a frequent winner of talent shows and that led to his first jobs as vaudeville emcee and band singer. After military service in World War II, he went to Hollywood seeking a career in movie musicals, but his plans were disrupted when a car accident left him partially paralyzed. He developed a series of exercises that enabled him to recover from his injuries and to begin studying ballet and tap dance. Despite initial limitations, he had an eight-year career in which he appeared in more than forty musical films, working with many leading choreographers and dancers of the late 1940s and early 1950s. His importance lies not in his performing career, however, but in the exercise routine he created for his rehabilitation, which became the first complete technique for learning jazz dance. In ...


Howard Rye

Tap-dancing trio. The leader of the act was Tiny (Earle) Ray (b New York, Jan 15, 1887; d New York, July 1963), who began his professional career as a child dancer in the act of Gussie Francis. The other two original members were Chick (Laybourne or Layborn or Layburn) Horsey (b Chester, PA, Sept 3, 1903/4; d Naples, Italy, July 18, 1933), who began his professional career as a child dancer in the act of Belle Davis; and Shakey (Clarence Wesley) Beasley (b East Orange, NJ, Jan 15, 1897; d East Orange, June 19, 1939). The group appeared in New York at Club Alabam (1924) and the Plantation (1925) before traveling to Europe with Sam Wooding and the show Chocolate Kiddies, which opened in Berlin on May 20, 1925. Beasley had been replaced by Charles Woody by the time they appeared in ...