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Elizabeth Aldrich

revised by Sally Banes

(b Aberdeen, WA, Nov 25, 1936). American choreographer and dancer. She graduated from Mills College and also studied with Anna Halprin and Robert Dunn as well as at the American Dance Festival in Connecticut. She has taught at Mills College, Reed College, New York University, and other institutions. Brown was a founding member of the Judson Dance Theater and the Grand Union, and in 1970 she formed the Trisha Brown Company. Termed a “postmodern” choreographer, Brown has often rejected music entirely or given it a subordinate role in her dances. During the early 1960s she performed improvised and “task” dances, which she later varied in a series of “equipment pieces” requiring what she called “external support systems,” such as ropes, pulleys, and mountain-climbing gear. The “accumulation” and “structured” pieces of the early 1970s involved the systematic ordering of movement. In 1979 Brown began to create several large-scale dance works in collaboration with such artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd, and Fukijo Nakaya, and with the composers Robert Ashley and Laurie Anderson; in these works she included music as a dominant element for the first time. Brown’s major choreographic works in the 1980s and 1990s were highlighted by collaborations with composers Anderson, Peter Zummo, and Richard Landry, as well as visual artists Rauschenberg, Judd, and Nancy Graves. During the 1990s she also began to work with existing musical scores, setting dances to the music of Bach, Webern, Cage, and Rameau. In ...

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Claude V. Palisca

(b Rome, c1550; d Rome, March 11, 1602). Italian composer, organist, singing teacher, dancer, choreographer, administrator and diplomat. He was the composer of the first surviving play set entirely to music, the Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo (Rome, 1600), the score of which is the earliest one printed with a figured bass.

Cavalieri was the son of Lavinia della Valle and Tommaso Cavalieri (1512–87), an architect and intimate friend of Michelangelo Buonarotti. His brother, Mario (d 1580), coordinated the Lenten music in the Oratorio del SS Crocifisso in S Marcello, Rome, between 1568 and 1579. He himself also participated in this Oratorio both as an organist and as a coordinator of Lenten music from 1578 until at least 1584 (the account books are missing for 1584–94); during his administration the yearly expenditure on music rose from 51 to 140 scudi....

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Claude Conyers

(b Geneva, IL, June 22, 1921; d New York, Aug 25, 1980). American dancer, singer, choreographer, and musical theater director. When he was twelve years old, he began studying dance with Ernest Belcher in Los Angeles, training in ballet, acrobatics, tap, and Spanish dance. At fifteen he formed a ballroom dance act with Jeanne Tyler, a fellow student at Hollywood High School, and made his professional début. After several years of touring (1935–42) and a stint in the Coast Guard during World War II, Champion formed a new partnership with Belcher’s daughter Marjorie in 1946. The new partners would later marry and win fame as one of the most popular dancing couples of the late 1940s and 1950s.

Marge and Gower Champion played supper clubs and hotel ballrooms before moving on to Broadway musicals and television variety shows. By the early 1950s they had established a national reputation as a popular song and dance act, and Gower had gained considerable experience as a choreographer. Their successes on stage and television led them, inevitably, back to Hollywood. After appearing as “guest artists” in ...

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Claude Conyers

(b Mountain Iron, MN, June 4, 1922). American choreographer and musical theater director. Trained by local teachers in Minnesota, he spent a summer as a youngster with Ted Shawn’s historic all-male ensemble at Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts. While serving in the Air Corps during World War II, he also danced and directed for a USO troupe, his first experience at choreographing and directing. After the war, he continued his dance training with teachers in New York and pursued his interest in dance creation. His first major job as a choreographer was for Stop the Music, an ABC-TV series, in 1949, after which he quickly became one of television’s most acclaimed choreographers. As choreographer of popular songs on the weekly show Your Hit Parade, Charmoli won his first Emmy award in 1955. Subsequently he arranged dance numbers for some of the biggest stars on television and the nightclub circuit: Dinah Shore, Danny Kaye, Julie Andrews, Shirley MacLaine, Juliet Prowse, Mitzi Gaynor, and others. He also worked on Broadway shows and Hollywood films, but it was his choreography for television that brought him fame. His understanding of choreographing for the camera led to work that set the standard for all future televised dance sequences....

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Sally Banes

revised by Elizabeth Aldrich

(b New York, NY, June 26, 1940). American choreographer and dancer. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and also studied with Hanya Holm, Helen Tamiris, Merce Cunningham, James Waring, and Robert Dunn. In 1973 she founded her own company, Lucinda Childs Dance. For the most part her works are danced in silence. Pieces from the 1960s such as Street Dance (1964) incorporate ordinary activities as dance movements; those of the 1970s and 1980s consist chiefly of stepping patterns (Calico Mingling, 1973; Melody Excerpt, 1977). Childs is perhaps best known for her role as dancer, actress, and speaker in the avant-garde opera Einstein on the Beach (1976) by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson; originally she choreographed only her own solo dance, but for the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1984 she served as choreographer of the entire work. Her participation in Einstein led to a further collaboration with Glass, ...

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Claude Conyers

American ballet dancers, teachers, choreographers, and company directors. Three of the four Christensen brothers made their careers in dance. Members of a Danish Mormon family that had settled in America, they were taught folk and social dancing by their father and grandfather and trained in ballet by various teachers. All three were instrumental in establishing and popularizing ballet in the western United States.

Willam Farr Christensen (b Brigham City, UT, Aug 27, 1902; d Salt Lake City, Oct 14, 2001) was the eldest of the brothers. After touring the vaudeville circuit, he opened a ballet school in 1932 in Portland, Oregon, from which sprang the Portland Ballet. In 1937 he joined the San Francisco Opera Ballet, where, as ballet-master, he staged the first full-length American productions of Coppélia (1939), Swan Lake (1940), and The Nutcracker (1944). Returning to Utah in 1951, he taught ballet at the state university and founded a performing group that eventually became known as Ballet West....

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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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Claude Conyers

[John Ewing Richter]

(b New Brunswick, NJ, April 27, 1911; d Los Angeles, Feb 17, 1974). American dancer and choreographer. He left home as a teenager to pursue dance training at the Denishawn studio in New York City. Taking his stage name from his stepfather, he appeared with several modern dance troupes before forming an exhibition dance act and beginning a commercial career dancing in nightclubs. During the late 1930s he danced with a partner and sometimes a small group of backup dancers in supper clubs, hotel ballrooms, and music theaters around the country. His performances, noted for their dramatic flair, brought him profitable jobs on Broadway and eventually led him, in 1941, to Hollywood. There, as dance director at Columbia Pictures, he created memorable ensemble numbers showcasing the talents of such stars as Mitzi Gaynor, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Ann Miller, and Marilyn Monroe. His highly individual dance style emphasized the sensuality of his stars and usually caused trouble with the film censors. More than one of his dance numbers ended up on the cutting-room floor. He created dances for more than thirty films as well as numerous hit shows on Broadway, including ...

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Mary Jo Lodge

(b New York, NY, July 4, 1887; d Encino, CA Feb 29, 1944). American choreographer, director, and producer. He was a choreographer and dance director of Broadway musicals in the 1920s and 30s. He also directed several shows on Broadway before moving exclusively into choreographing early Hollywood film musicals. He began staging musical numbers on Broadway in 1926 with the musical Kitty’s Kisses. The long list of Broadway musicals he choreographed includes Good News (1927), George and Ira Gershwin’s Funny Face (1927), Sigmund Romberg’s The New Moon (1928), and The Ziegfeld Follies of 1931 and 1934. His first directing opportunity came with the stage musical Princess Charming in 1930, which, like The Ballyhoo of 1932, was one of a handful he also produced. He first worked as a dance director for film on Moonlight and Pretzels (1933), which was shot in New York. He then served as choreographer, dance director, or musical stager on a series of films for Warner Bros. and then MGM in California, most famously ...

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Susan Au

[Mercier Philip ]

(b Centralia, WA, Apr 16, 1919; d New York, NY, July 26, 2009). American dancer, choreographer, and dance company director. He began to study dance in his native Centralia. While attending the Cornish Institute in Seattle, he met John Cage, with whom he formed a lasting and productive partnership. He also studied modern dance at Mills College and the Bennington School of the Dance, and ballet at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet in New York. He performed as a soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company (1939–45), where he originated the role of the Revivalist in Graham’s Appalachian Spring (1944; Aaron Copland). He first began to choreograph in 1942, and in 1944 presented his first solo concert in New York, dancing to music by Cage. In 1953 he formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, with Cage as music director. The two men shared an innovative mindset, which defined the company’s aesthetic mission. The Cunningham school, which trained dancers for the company, was established in ...

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Ingrid Brainard

[Giovanni Ambrosio]

(b Pesaro, c1420; d ? after 1484). Italian dancing-master, theorist and choreographer. He was the son of Moses of Sicily, Jewish dancing-master at the Pesaro court. Two autobiographical chapters in his own treatises provide information about his career; he listed a number of major festivities (weddings, entries, visits of state, carnival celebrations etc.) for which he created the dances. The most brilliant courts of the period sought his services; some of the engagements, such as those at Camerino, Ravenna, Urbino, Milan and Florence, extended over several years. Perhaps for convenience or personal safety, or to enhance his standing in his profession, he converted to Christianity and assumed the name Giovanni Ambrosio; the treatise under this name, F-Pn it.476, is nearly identical with F-Pn it.973, the only securely dated examplar (1463) of Guglielmo's manual. Guglielmo was at the Naples court from 1465 to 1467, and soon thereafter (...

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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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Susan Au

(George)

(b New York, Sept 18, 1905; d New York, Oct 7, 1993). American dancer, choreographer, dance company director, and writer. Born into a family of theater professionals (her uncle was film director Cecil B. De Mille), she earned a BA in English from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her ballet training began in Los Angeles and continued in England, where she danced in the companies of Marie Rambert and Antony Tudor. She toured the United States and Europe as a solo performer, and in 1939 became a charter member of Ballet Theatre (later American Ballet Theatre). Her best-known ballet, Rodeo (1942; Aaron Copland), was choreographed for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The story of a cowgirl who learns the uses of femininity, it is still performed today. Her choreography for the musical Oklahoma! (1943; Rodgers and Hammerstein) brought her even wider fame, and its use of dance as a means of advancing the plot was hailed as a milestone in theater history. ...

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Roland John Wiley

(Frédéric )

(b Stockholm, 1767; d Kiev, 7/Nov 19, 1837). French choreographer . After studying in Stockholm and Paris, he travelled widely; Swift traced his dances in operas at Stockholm (1787), Bordeaux (1790) and Paris (1791, 1793), but his most extensive engagements were in London (1796–1801, 1812–14) and St Petersburg (1801–12, 1816–30). As a choreographer at the King’s Theatre, Didelot was no doubt involved with opera – a repertory of continental masterpieces leavened by pasticcios and new works by resident composers. In Russia his work is traceable in state records, performance sources and personal accounts. Between 1806 and 1827 he created dances for 25 operas, mostly by French composers, including six by Boieldieu (who worked in St Petersburg, 1804–11), Spontini’s La vestale and Fernand Cortez and works by Grétry, Isouard, Catel, Rodolphe Kreutzer and Auber. Didelot also choreographed operas by Mozart and Winter and five operas by the russified Italian Catterino Cavos. Of special interest is his conversion of Boieldieu’s opera ...

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Olivia Mattis, J. Highwather and Sara Jobin

(b Detroit, June 16, 1931; d New York, April 11, 2000). American composer, poet and choreographer. The daughter of Polish emigrant labour union organizers, she received her early musical education at the Detroit Conservatory. After training in chemistry at Wayne State University, she was awarded a scholarship to study the piano with Grete Sultan in New York; she also studied analysis with Salzer at the Mannes School of Music and composition with Varèse (1953). Championed by members of the New York School, she participated in several concerts and panel discussions at The Club. Haiku, oriental philosophy and the writings of F.S.C. Northrop inspired her to seek poetic immediacy in sound. In her compositions, many of which are evocatively titled, she aimed to capture the essence of each moment and to turn each gesture into a discovery. She performed primarily on invented instruments, including her own ‘timbre piano’, a conventional piano played by striking, bowing or plucking the strings, and the many percussion instruments created for her by sculptor Ralph Dorazio....