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(Anton Christoph)

(bap. Vienna, Nov 17, 1710; d Vienna, May 30, 1768). Austrian dancer, choreographer and impresario. He was a member of a large theatrical dynasty active in Vienna from at least the 1660s. His father, Johann Baptist Hilverding, had been an associate of the famous Hanswurst Josef Anton Stranitzky, and his elder brother Johann Peter Hilverding led various troupes of German actors, ending his career in Russia. Franz Hilverding’s principal training – at the emperor’s expense – was with the dancer Blondy in Paris during the mid-1730s. While there he probably witnessed performances of Fuzelier and Rameau’s opéra-balletLes Indes galantes, an entrée of which, Le Turc généreux, he later imitated in a pantomime ballet. Hilverding’s sojourn in Paris almost certainly contributed significantly to his overall cultural education; his knowledge of literature and skill as a draughtsman and composer of music were thought unusual in a choreographer.

By 1737 he was engaged as a dancer at the Habsburg court, where he soon began composing ballets alongside Alexander and Franz Anton Phillebois. According to his pupil Gasparo Angiolini’s account, the period of mourning after the death of Charles VI in ...

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Elizabeth Aldrich

(b Hoosick Falls, NY, Sept 25, 1905; d Arlington, VA, June 9, 1977). American dancer, choreographer, and teacher. After ballet studies in New York City, Hoctor made her Broadway debut in the chorus of Jerome Kern’s musical Sally in 1920. In 1922 she joined the Keith-Orpheum Circuit as a solo ballet dancer. The next year she appeared in Vivian and Rosetta Duncan’s (known as the Duncan Sisters) Topsy and Eva, a musical comedy adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The show toured the United States and opened on Broadway in 1924. In 1927 Hoctor starred in the Broadway revue A La Carte, and critics noted that she was the only member of the cast who “is certain to be pleasantly remembered.” Having caught the eye of producer Florenz Ziegfeld, she danced in his sumptuous Broadway production of The Three Musketeers, which opened in 1928, and in 1929 she appeared in ...

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Claude Conyers

(b Indianapolis, Jan 23, 1906; d Los Angeles, Nov 2, 1953). American choreographer, teacher, and dance company director. Having studied various forms of dance, including ballet, Denishawn techniques, and Native American dance forms, he moved to Los Angeles in 1929 and pursued his training with Michio Ito, an influential Japanese teacher of modern dance. Soon Horton had developed his own style of teaching and in 1932 founded a performing group with a repertory of dances with such exotic titles as Voodoo Ceremonial and Allegro Barbaro. From the mid-1930s until the outbreak of World War II, the Lester Horton Dancers presented appreciative audiences with performances of daringly erotic dance (e.g., Salome), Native American pageants (e.g., Mound Builders), social and political statements (e.g., Ku Klux Klan), and an occasional satirical piece (e.g., Flight from Reality). With such a variety of dance styles and forms, he was recognized as the leading practitioner of modern dance on the West Coast. To create jobs for his students, Horton produced Afro-Cuban and Latin nightclub shows and worked on Hollywood films, creating dances for twenty-one movies between ...

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Barbara Palfy

(b Oak Park, IL, Oct 17, 1895; d New York, Dec 29, 1958). American dancer, choreographer, teacher, and pioneer in modern dance. Descendents of Pilgrim stock in New England, her well-educated parents moved to the Midwest for better income, first to Chicago and then the suburb of Oak Park. Trained first by the highly regarded dance educator of the time, Mary Wood Hinman, and various itinerant ballet instructors, Humphrey showed early talent and, finishing high school, launched into a cross-country performing tour; there being little other work in dance for a proper young woman, she taught dance classes at home for children and adults, and for actors at a summer theater camp in New England, where she first encountered the music of Edward MacDowell. World War I preserved this status quo until she was finally able to break away in 1920 to join the Denishawn school and company in California, where she was not only a principal dancer but also choreographed many solos and small group works....

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Jennifer Thorp

[Francis? ]

(fl London, 1673–1718; d ?January 1721). English dancing-master and choreographer. Little is known about his life; he may have been related to an earlier dancing-master in Paris, also named Isaac, he was one of a large group of recusant dancing-masters active in London from the 1670s onwards, and he was also closely related to a family of dancing-masters named Thorpe. In 1673 Mr Isaac danced as a Venetian and a Spaniard in a masquerade for the Duke of Monmouth, and in 1675 he danced in John Crowne and Nicholas Staggins's masque Calisto in Whitehall, London, and subsequently retained his connections with the English royal court. He was much sought after as a dancing-master (his pupils included the princesses Mary and Anne) and was respected by fellow dancing-masters as a mentor and patron. 22 of his dances survive in Beauchamp-Feuillet notation: 19 were published from 1706 onwards and reissued, with music by James Paisible, to celebrate Queen Anne's birthdays; one was published by Edmund Pemberton in ...

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Claude Conyers

(b Philadelphia, PA, May 10, 1943). American modern dancer, choreographer, and company director. She studied with Marion Cuyjet and at the Philadelphia Dance Academy. There, Agnes de Mille saw her in a class and invited her to dance in her ballet The Four Marys (1965) for American Ballet Theater. Jamison moved to New York City, continued her training with several prominent ballet and modern dance teachers, and soon joined the Alvin Ailey company, where she remained as a principal dancer until 1980. Of her many roles, the most remarkable was Cry (1972; music by Alice Coltrane, Laura Nyro, and The Voices of East Harlem), a fifteen-minute solo that was Ailey’s tribute to “black women everywhere, especially our mothers.” After leaving the Ailey company, Jamison starred in Donald McKayle’s Sophisticated Ladies (1981) on Broadway, formed her own company, and began to choreograph. Upon Ailey’s death in ...

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[Anver, Abdullah Jaffa Anver Bey]

(b Seattle, WA, Dec 24, 1930; d New York, March 25, 1988). American dancer, choreographer, teacher, and ballet company director. After early studies in ballet, he presented his first choreography in his native Seattle in 1948. He continued training in New York at the School of American Ballet, and studied modern dance with May O’Donnell and Gertrude Shurr. He performed with Roland Petit’s Ballets de Paris and O’Donnell’s modern dance company. In 1953 he established the American Ballet Center, which became the official school of his company. His first dance group, Robert Joffrey Ballet Concert, was founded in 1954; two years later he began a new company, the Robert Joffrey Ballet. With Gerald Arpino as chief choreographer, Joffrey molded the company (subsequently known as City Center Joffrey Ballet and, beginning in 1977, simply as the Joffrey Ballet) into a purveyor of dynamic, youth-oriented ballets with wide appeal. Astarte...

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Claude Conyers

[William Tass Jones ]

(b Bunnell, FL, Feb 15, 1952). American dancer, choreographer, designer, author, and company director. He did not begin his dance training until his freshman year in college, at the State University of New York at Binghamton. There he met Arnie Zane (1948–88), who became his companion and collaborator for seventeen years. After creating their first dance together, Pas de Deux for Two (1973; music by Benny Goodman), they founded American Dance Asylum in 1974, for which they created both individual and collaborative choreographies. Prior to founding the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982, Jones choreographed and performed nationally and internationally as a soloist and as a duo with Zane. In addition to making more than fifty works for his own company, he has created dances for numerous American and European ballet, modern dance, and opera companies. Many of his works are set to music by American composers or to audio collages of music and spoken text. Characteristic of his early work with Zane are ...

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Todd Decker

[Curran, Eugene]

(b Pittsburgh, PA, Aug 23, 1912; d Beverly Hills, CA, Feb 2, 1996). American dancer, actor, choreographer, and film director. Kelly started out in Pittsburgh, running a family-owned dance studio and performing regionally. Turning down an opportunity to join the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo touring company, he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1933 and briefly attended law school before going to New York in 1937. On Broadway, Kelly quickly went from chorus boy (Leave It to Me, 1938) to leading man (Pal Joey, 1940) and soon departed for Hollywood, making his film debut opposite Judy Garland in For Me and My Gal (1942). Under contract with MGM, Kelly first made his mark in a loan out to Columbia (Cover Girl, 1944); the innovative “Alter Ego” solo in the film initiated Kelly’s interest in both directing and integrating musical numbers into the plot. He is among very few studio-era stars to cross over into directing. Most of his director credits were shared with Stanley Donen, including ...

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Claude Conyers

[Greenwald, Milton ]

(b New York, Aug 12, 1915; d Los Angeles, Dec 23, 2007). American dancer and choreographer for stage and film. After winning a scholarship to the School of American Ballet in 1937, he decided to pursue a career in dance. He danced on Broadway and with several ballet companies before joining Ballet Theatre in 1942. During his five years as a soloist with that company, he choreographed his only ballet, On Stage, to music by Norman Dello Joio, in 1945. This led to a commission to create dances for the Broadway musical Finian’s Rainbow (1947; music by Burton Lane), for which he won the first of five Tony awards for his choreography. He won the award again for Guys and Dolls (1950; music by Frank Loesser), Can-Can (1953; music by Cole Porter), Li’l Abner (1956; music by Gene de Paul), and Destry Rides Again...

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Carol G. Marsh

(b Paris, ?1667; d Paris, ?after 1756). French dancing-master and choreographer. In 1698, about ten years after he began dancing at the Paris Opéra, he was brought to London by Thomas Betterton to perform at Lincoln’s Inn Fields. He performed and was active as choreographer at various London theatres until at least 1714, and in 1719 he was involved in plans for the new Royal Academy of Music. From 1715 to 1741 he was dancing-master to the grandchildren of George I, with a salary higher than that of Handel, their music master. His extant choreographies, preserved in Beauchamp-Feuillet notation, include a collection of 13 theatrical dances (A New Collection of Dances, London, c1725/R) composed during the first two decades of the 18th century; many of them are set to music by Lully and his successors, and are as demanding technically as those by Pécour and other French choreographers....

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G.B.L. Wilson

(b Pozsony [now Bratislava], Dec 15, 1879; d Weybridge, July 1, 1958). Hungarian dancer, choreographer and inventor of a system of dance notation. The son of a general, he was intended for a military career but in 1900 went to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He became a dancer at the Moulin Rouge, toured North Africa in a revue, and later danced in Leipzig, Dresden, Münster and, in 1907–10, Vienna. In 1910 he opened a school of modern dance in Munich. He worked in Zürich during World War I and in 1919 went to Stuttgart; there he started the Laban Dance Theatre at which Kurt Jooss joined him as a pupil, accompanying him to Mannheim in 1921–3. Laban was ballet director in Hamburg from 1923 to 1925 and founded a Choreographic Institute in Wurzburg in 1926. From 1930 to 1934 he was ballet director of the Berlin Staatsoper. In ...

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Wolfgang Bender

(b Oshogbo, Dec 18, 1931; d Ibadan, March 11, 1978). Nigerian playwright . Ladipo was an internationally famous author of Yoruba popular plays. For the Duro Ladipo Theatre Group he served as director, actor, composer, choreographer and manager. He was the grandson of a drummer and the son of an Anglican catechist. He was a member of his school's choir from the age of nine, and wrote his first play while still in school. At the same time he began composing and adapting European hymns to the tonality of the Yoruba language. The performance of his Easter Cantata (1961) in Oshogbo sparked a controversy concerning the use of drums in churches. Ladipo thereafter began performing outside the church, changing his topics to historical themes that integrated Yoruba singing and drumming. He ‘Yoruba-ized’ popular theatre, and his new directions were highly successful. He produced 36 plays, not including his television scripts....

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Friderica Derra De Moroda

revised by Sibylle Dahms

(fl early 18th century). Italian dancer and choreographer. He wrote one of the most interesting 18th-century books on dance: Neue und curieuse theatrialische Tantz-Schul (Nuremberg, 1716/R with commentary by K. Petermann and Eng. trans.). The title-page (see illustration) and preface indicate that Lambranzi was born in or around Venice, and that as a dancer he toured Italy, Germany and France. The original manuscript for the book (in D-Mbs ; facs., New York, 1972, ed. F. Derra de Moroda) suggests by the type of cursive handwriting that he may have spent large parts of his life in Germany, although no other evidence is known to support this. The book contains 101 plates beautifully engraved by J.G. Puschner. Each plate shows a dance scene in stage settings typical for touring companies of the period (for illustration see Folia). All costumed male and female characters are presented by men (Lambranzi served as a model for most of the illustrations). At the bottom of each plate there are suggestions for the steps and the manner of performance. The melody for each dance is given at the top of each plate (similar to Feuillet’s printed dance notations, which Lambranzi knew quite well). The subjects of the dances range from ...

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Sibylle Dahms

(b Lyons, Sept 1732; d Berlin, Jan 5, 1820). French dancer, choreographer and teacher. He was an influential figure in the history of the ballet en action. A pupil of his father, Laurentius (1713–83), an actor and dancer at the Mannheim Hoftheater, he probably studied in Paris, and then worked as a dancing master and ballet dancer at the Mannheim court (1756–64). In about 1763 he began his career as a choreographer at the court of Hessen-Kassel, creating more than 50 ballets. A printed collection of these ballets (Recueil des Ballets de Cassel, Kassel, 1768, GB-LbI) suggests that he was familiar with the theories and practical works of Noverre. The music for most of these ballets was composed by his former Mannheim colleagues Christian Cannabich, C.J. Toeschi and Ignaz Fränzl as well as by Noverre’s collaborators at Stuttgart, F.J. Deller and Rudolph. Lauchery wrote his own music for at least two of his ballets and, as in a letter by Leopold Mozart (...

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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 ...

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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 ...