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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 (...

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Howard Rye

[Leslie ]

(b Waycross, GA, Feb 12, 1913; d New York, June 30, 1997). American tap-dancer. His birthdate appears in his application for social security; the place of his birth and details of his death are in the New York Times obituary. Gaines started dancing in 1932 as a member of the Three Dukes (comprising Gaines, James Hudson, and Arthur Russell), with whom he may be seen in the short film Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1933) performing I would do anything for you and The Peanut Vendor. They also worked with Duke Ellington. In 1934 the Three Dukes toured Britain and Europe with Cab Calloway. They returned to Britain in 1936 for a variety tour and remained in Europe until 1939, during which time they held an extended residency at the Casino de Paris. Gaines took part in many USO tours from 1951 to 1971, when he retired. In ...

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Howard Rye

[Royce Edward ]

(b Baltimore, April 6, 1928). 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 1995, with Bailey, he made the video ...

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Maureen Needham Costonis

(b Nancy, Feb 4, 1758; d Paris, Oct 18, 1840). French dancer and ballet-master . He made his début as a danseur noble in 1774. He was trained by his brother, Maximilien Léopold Philippe Joseph Gardel (b Mannheim, 18 Dec 1741; d Paris, 11 March 1787), a dancer at the Opéra since 1755 and assistant ballet-master from 1773. The elder Gardel had made a sensation there in 1772 when, asked to replace Gaetano Vestris in Rameau’s Castor et Pollux, he had removed the traditional mask. In 1783 Maximilien became principal ballet-master and Pierre was appointed his assistant. He became principal ballet-master in 1787 and held the post for more than 40 years. Grimm described him as a worthy successor to Noverre, and Bournonville claimed that ‘no one was able to rival’ his opera dances, citing the ‘wealth of invention’ in such works as Le Sueur and Persuis’ ...

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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 (...

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Howard Rye

[Samuel Christopher ]

(b Fitzgerald, GA, Nov 6, 1918; d Oakland, CA, March 6, 1997). American tap-dancer. His given name and birthdate are found in the California death index. He began his dancing career on the sidewalks of Atlanta and before the age of nine had formed the act Chuck & Chuckles with James Walker. After they moved to New York in 1931, Green became a protégé of John Bubbles. Chuck & Chuckles toured widely, working in theaters with several leading big bands, including that of Chick Webb, and dancing at clubs through the 1940s. They broke up in the late 1940s, and Green continued with a solo act. In the 1960s he appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival and at the Village Vanguard accompanied by Jo Jones (1964). From 1969 he was a moving force in the Hoofers Club. He performed at the Riverside Studios in London in ...

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Kate Van Winkle Keller

(fl. 1784–1800). American dancing master and choreographer. Griffiths was the earliest-known choreographer to publish his work in the United States. He issued a collection of country dances and cotillions (Providence, 1788), and an expanded collection with instructions for polite deportment (Northampton, 1794). The whole or partial contents of these books were reprinted by several rural New England and New York publishers over the next 15 years. A broadside of the deportment rules was printed separately. Griffiths based his activities in New York (1784–7, 1796–9?) and Boston (1788–94), and taught in smaller towns in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and upstate New York. In 1800 he moved to Charleston, South Carolina, perhaps via Philadelphia. Through his publications and itinerant teaching, Griffiths strongly influenced the repertory of social dancing and behavior in New York and New England ballrooms in the early Federal period. Some of his choreographies, notably “Fisher’s Hornpipe,” are still danced today. Griffiths may have composed several tunes for use in his classes, such as “Griffiths Whim,” “Griffiths Fancy,” and “Duo Minuet.” And he may have been related to one of the Griffiths families active on the English stage during the second half of the 18th century....

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(b Modena, c 1700; d Naples, ?1774). Italian dancer, choreographer and impresario . He spent the early part of his career in Venice, where he created ballets for more than 40 operas, 1720–45. His name first appears as a choreographer for the 1720 Ascension season (Orlandini’s Griselda) at the Teatro S Samuele, here he worked for 11 Ascension seasons (later productions included works by Porpora, Albinoni and Galuppi, and Gluck’s Demetrio in 1742). He also choreographed at S Giovanni Grisostomo (24 operas, 1722–45, including Porpora’s Siface, Meride e Selinunte, Rosbale and Statira, and Hasse’s Alessandro nell’Indie and Semiramide riconosciuta) and at S Angelo, S Cassiano, and S Moisè. At the Teatro Falcone in Genoa (1731) and the Regio Ducal Teatro in Milan (1732–3, Lampugnani’s Candace; 1737–40, works by Bernasconi, Brivio and Leo) he worked with his wife Maria, a Venetian ballerina. While in Milan Goldoni, who knew the couple from Venice, spent an evening at their home, in his ...

Article

Mitsutoshi Inaba

(b Hillsborough, NC, April 4, 1929). American Piedmont blues guitarist, singer, dancer, and storyteller. He grew up on a farm in rural Orange County, North Carolina. When he was 13 or 14 years old, he learned acoustic guitar by watching his uncle and cousin. He drew repertoire from the artists he heard on the radio, such as Blind Boy Fuller, Brownie McGhee, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. He played at social gatherings in the community and added buck- and tap-dancing, which he also learned from his uncle and cousin. In 1954 he moved to Durham where he started to play electric guitar and incorporated more modern blues, including songs by Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed. Teaming up with pianist Quentin “Fris” Holloway (1918–2008), Holeman performed in and around Durham. In 1976 folklorist Glenn Hinson invited Holeman to a local festival that attracted 5000 audience members. Since then he has been playing professionally. During the 1980s, he toured in and outside the United States with Holloway. While his precise finger picking––as heard in “Step It Up and Go” (...

Article

[Edvard, Eduard ]

(b Copenhagen, Denmark, 1843; d New York, NY, Feb 4, 1899). Composer, dancer, and playwright of Danish birth. He immigrated to the United States in about 1874 and was active in New York in both music and theater. He provided the music for several musical comedies, including A Circus in Town...

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Barry Kernfeld

[Edgar ]

(b Pittsburgh, Aug 3, 1918; d Detroit, May 9, 1979). American singer, lyricist, and dancer. For many years he worked principally as a tap-dancer while also learning to play tuba, guitar, and drums. In the 1940s, with his dancing partner Irv Taylor, he created what came to be called (misleadingly) jazz vocalese (see Vocalese) by setting lyrics to improvisations on Panassié Stomp and Taxi War Dance by Lester Young with Count Basie’s orchestra and Body and Soul by Coleman Hawkins; a decade later this type of piece became an important element in the success of Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. From 1952, following King Pleasure’s popular recording of Jefferson’s Moody’s Mood for Love (based on a saxophone solo by James Moody), Jefferson was able to record his own gritty-voiced vocalese; among the four titles from his first session were a different Body and Soul (based on an uncelebrated recording of the piece by Moody) and ...

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Howard Rye

(fl Los Angeles, mid-1930s–1954). American drummer, singer, and dancer. He began his musical career in Dallas in the early 1930s in the Sharps and Flats, a band led by his elder brother Bert Johnson, a trombonist. While he was primarily a dancing frontman with this group, he was also featured on tom-toms. Both brothers moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1930s, where Cee Pee joined the band of the alto saxophonist Emerson Scott at the Onyx Club, Hollywood. He took over leadership of the group during a residency at the Paradise Club, and during a succession of engagements at such venues as the Del Mar Club (1940), the Rhumboogie, Sugar Hill (1942), and Billy Berg’s Swing Club he led one of the most prominent West Coast big bands of the era; among his sidemen were Teddy Buckner, Karl George, Buddy Banks (i), Marshal Royal, Jack McVea, Johnny Miller, and Buddy Collette. Alton Redd was the band’s second drummer, filling in when Johnson was featured on tom-toms or engaged in showmanship. The band made many visits to the film studios, some of which probably remain to be identified. Johnson continued to lead bands until at least ...

Article

John Cowley, Jeffrey Green and Howard Rye

[Hymans-Johnson [Hijmans-Johnson], Kendrick Reginald ]

(b Georgetown, British Guiana [now Guyana], Sept 10, 1914; d London, March 8, 1941). British Guiana bandleader and dancer. The birthdate of 22 June 1917 given in the first edition of this dictionary derives from an error in the registers of his British school. He had little musical training, but was featured in a comb-and-paper band at Queens College, Georgetown. From 1929 he attended school in England. His interest in dancing developed from his contact with the African-American choreographer Clarence “Buddy” Bradley, and he began working as a dancer and choreographer in 1933; he assisted Bradley with film choreography, and he may be seen dancing in the film Oh Daddy (1934). A tour of the Caribbean in 1935 was interrupted by work in American film studios in April and May, and Johnson allegedly danced for Fletcher Henderson and made two film shorts. He returned to England in ...

Article

John Macinnis

[Kaminski, David Daniel ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, Jan 18, 1913; d Los Angeles, CA, March 3, 1987). American Singer, dancer, and actor. Kaminski began his career as an entertainer by traveling widely and working nonmusical day jobs. He was first billed as Danny Kaye in 1933 while working with the dancing act of David Harvey and Kathleen Young. Kaye specialized in singing with non-English accents punctuated with spurts of double-talk, tongue twisters, face contortions, and dancing. He met his wife, pianist and songwriter Sylvia Fine, while working variety shows in New York, and, with her assistance, developed some of his most famous numbers, including “Stanislavsky,” “Anatole of Paris,” and “Melody in Four F.” In 1939 Kaye appeared in Broadway in his Straw Hat Revue and again in 1941 in Cole Porter’s Let’s Face It.

Kaye’s film career began in 1944 with the RKO film Up in Arms. Other musical comedy films in which he starred included ...

Article

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 ...

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Maureen Needham Costonis

(b 1655; d 1738). French dancer. She was called ‘la première des premières danseuses’ because she was the highest-ranked of the first ballerinas permitted to appear in public at the Paris Opéra. She danced the leading role in Lully’s Le triomphe de l’Amour at the Opéra (1681...

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Rainer E. Lotz

[Jackson, Laurence ]

(b Baltimore, Feb 23, 1921; d May 1974). American singer and tap-dancer. He first sang professionally at the age of 11, touring with Don Redman. During a period at Dickie Wells’s club in New York he learned to tap-dance, and from the mid-1930s he performed with several dance groups. He worked steadily through the 1940s, appearing with the bands of Count Basie, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and others; during a tenure as a tap-dancer at the Spotlite Club, New York, he traded fours with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Bud Powell (c1947). Laurence emphasized footwork, performing tap-dances almost as if they were drum solos, and he was one of the few jazz dancers who felt comfortable with the rhythms of bop. Illness prevented him from working for many years, but he later recorded as a leader the album Dancemaster (c1958–60, CJ 30), accompanied by such all-star musicians as Paul Quinichette, Bobby Jaspar, and Roland Hanna. He visited London about ...

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Maureen Needham Costonis

(b Paris, 1725; d 1777). French choreographer and dancer . He was the son of Antoine Bandieri de Laval (b Paris, 1688; d Paris, 20 Oct 1767), who had been a noted exponent of the danse sérieuse and had choreographed many revivals of operas by Campra and others. Michel-Jean joined the ...

Article

Deane L. Root

[Klasen, Gertrud Alexandra Dagmar Lawrence ]

(b London, July 4, 1898; d New York, Sept 6, 1952). English actress, singer and dancer. She was a child performer in pantomime and musicals and from 1916 appeared in revue in London. She introduced ‘Parisian Pierrot’ by her lifelong friend Noël Coward in his revue London Calling (1923), and her New York début in the London show André Charlot’s Revue of 1924 (in which she sang ‘Limehouse Blues’) brought her immediately to the attention of leading American songwriters; her first successful song was You were meant for me by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake. George and Ira Gershwin wrote the musicals Oh, Kay! (1926, including ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’) and Treasure Girl (1928) for her. Lawrence also performed spoken drama in both England and the USA, notably Private Lives (1930) with Noël Coward, but in 1933 appeared on Broadway in Porter’s ...

Article

Paul R. Laird

[Lichtman, Joseph ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, May 3, 1931; d Key West, FL, May 5, 1994). American dancer, choreographer, and director. Layton joined the dancing chorus of Oklahoma! in 1947, followed by appearances as a dancer in such shows as High Button Shoes (1947), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), Miss Liberty (1949), and Wonderful Town (1953). While in the army in the early 1950s, Layton started to choreograph and direct. He spent two years in the mid-1950s in France as a dancer and choreographer with the Ballet Ho de George Reich. Returning to the United States in 1956, Layton was a featured dancer in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s televised Cinderella (1957) and worked in summer stock. His New York choreography debut was an off-Broadway revival of On the Town (1959). Layton choreographed Once Upon a Mattress off-Broadway and then on Broadway and in London, and continued his work on Broadway with dances for ...