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Moira Goff

(b c1690; bur. London, Jan 31, 1754). English dancer, dancing-master and choreographer. He is sometimes confused with his father, the actor John Thurmond (d 1727). He was first billed as dancing at the Drury Lane Theatre in 1710, and in 1718 he became the company's dancing-master. He remained there (except for a short period when he danced at Goodman's Fields) until his retirement from the stage in 1737. He danced regularly throughout his career and is best known for the pantomimes with which he proved himself a worthy rival to John Rich. These began with The Dumb Farce and A Duke and No Duke (both 1719; composers unknown). Thurmond was responsible for the dances in the phenomenally successful pantomime Harlequin Doctor Faustus (1723), which was followed by Harlequin Sheppard (1724), Apollo and Daphne (1725) and The Miser, or Wagner and Abericock...

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Jennifer Thorp

[Kenelm]

(b ?1693; d 1758). English dancing-master and choreographer. He was apprenticed to the London dancing-master Thomas Caverley (c1648–1745) from 1707 to about 1714, and he studied theatrical dance with René Cherrier (fl 1699–1708). Between 1708 and 1721 he compiled a manuscript notebook ( NZ-Wt ), which includes an early notation of Caverley's Slow Minuitt and six theatre dances of his own (five with music by Jean Baptiste Loeillet (i) and one with music by Tomlinson himself), three of which were designed as an entr'acte for a production of The Island Princess (Lincoln's Inn Fields, 1716) and later revived with additions as An Entertainment of Dancing for the Stage (1721). Six more of Tomlinson's dances, set to music by himself, Loeillet and Babell, were published annually between 1715 and 1720 (and as a collection in 1720) and survive as engraved notations. In ...

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Claude Conyers

(James)

(b Wichita Falls, TX, Feb 28, 1939). American actor, dancer, singer, choreographer, and musical theater director. Enrolled in a tap dance class when he was five years old, he showed obvious talent. This led to classes in acrobatics, modern dance, jazz dance, and, finally, ballet, in which he trained for some years with the intention of making it his career. His aspirations diminished, however, as his height increased (he eventually grew to a height of six feet, six and a half inches), and in high school he focused his energies on staging musical comedies. In college, he appeared in numerous student productions as a theater major, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1962. Just before completing requirements for a master’s degree, he decided to abandon academic studies for the professional stage.

Arriving in New York City in 1964, he quickly found work. He made his Broadway début in Baker Street...

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(Rinaldo Giuseppe Maria)

(b Milan, Sept 6, 1739; d ?Venice, 1811). Italian choreographer, dancer and impresario. From the 1750s he danced mostly in Rome, Vienna, Venice and Naples, becoming active as a choreographer from at least 1773 and as an impresario from at least 1783. Viganò was famous in his youth as a dancer in the comic (grottesco) style. Burney, who saw him in Naples in 1770, wrote that he ‘has great force and neatness, and seems to equal Slingsby in his à plomb, or neatness of keeping time’. Later he seems to have appeared only in serious parts, dancing regularly until 1792 and once thereafter, in 1797. He was one of the best-known choreographers in Italy, often working in collaboration with the composer Marescalchi, but he never approached the celebrity achieved by his son Salvatore. His career as an impresario, notably at the Teatro Argentina in Rome (...

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Friderica Derra De Moroda

revised by Monika Woitas

(b Naples, March 25, 1769; d Milan, Aug 10, 1821). Italian choreographer, dancer and composer . He was the son of Onorato Viganò and Maria Ester Viganò (née Boccherini), who were both dancers; as early as Carnival 1783 he was dancing female roles with great success at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, where his father was impresario and ballet-master. He also studied composition with Boccherini (his uncle) and provided music for some of his father’s ballets (the earliest known is Cefalo e Procri, Carnival 1786) and later for some of his own. In summer 1786 he had a farsetta, La credula vedova, performed in Rome. He had moved with his family to Venice by 1788 and danced with them at the S Samuele theatre. In 1789 he went to Spain with an uncle, Giovanni Viganò, to perform in the coronation festivities of Charles IV. There he met the dancer Maria Medina, whom he married, and the French dancer and choreographer Dauberval, who took him as a pupil to Bordeaux and, early in ...

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Moira Goff

(bap. Shrewsbury, July 21, 1673; d Shrewsbury, Sept 24, 1760). English dancer, choreographer and dancing-master . The son of another dancing-master named John Weaver, he was educated at Shrewsbury School but spent part of his youth in Oxford, where his father kept a dancing school. By 1700 he was a theatrical dancer in London and early in 1703 he created The Tavern Bilkers, his first work for the stage. He became associated with the dancing-master Mr Isaac, who wished to improve both the status and the practice of dancing, and in 1706, at Isaac's suggestion, he published Orchesography as well as six of Mr Isaac's ball-dances in Beauchamp-Feuillet notation. He returned to Shrewsbury, and, in 1712, with the encouragement of the essayist and dramatist Sir Richard Steele, he published An Essay towards an History of Dancing. It dealt mainly with the status of dancing in antiquity, but in the final chapter Weaver argued for the reform of contemporary stage dancing so that it could represent ‘...

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Barbara Palfy

(b Lincoln, NE, July 22, 1901; d New York, July 15, 1975). American dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Weidman studied dance as a youth locally and then with former Ballets Russes dancer Theodore Kosloff, going on to Denishawn in California to finish his training and to perform with the company for six years. In 1928 a number of the dancers rebelled against the exotica they were performing and left to find new ways of moving, becoming the pioneers of what would be called modern dance. With fellow dancer Doris Humphrey the Humphrey-Weidman Company was formed in New York, lasting until 1945 as a major troupe of the era.

While the innovative movement vocabulary they presented was primarily Humphrey’s contribution, Weidman developed an approach to dancemaking that he called “kinetic pantomime”: starting with an everyday gesture and letting it spool out improvisationally. Always an arresting presence on the stage, he created solos and group works that were full of characterization. His sensibilities were attuned to all shades of life, expressed in works that could be scathing as in his statement against bigotry in ...

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Claude Conyers

(b Kansas City, MO, Dec 21, 1950). American modern dancer, choreographer, and company director. She was trained in various styles of show dancing by Joseph Stevenson, who had been a student of the famed dance anthropologist Katherine Dunham. Zollar followed in Dunham’s scholarly footsteps, eventually earning a master’s degree in fine arts at Florida State University, where she also studied ballet and modern dance. In 1980 she relocated to New York and continued her studies with Dianne McIntyre. Following her childhood bent for making up dances, she founded her own company, Urban Bush Women, in 1984, and began choreographic explorations of the history and culture of African American women in an urban, multi-ethnic environment. Blending modern and jazz dance, her works range in subject matter from Shelter (1988), a piercing study of homelessness, to Batty Moves (1995), a saucy celebration of the buttocks of black women. Some of Zollar’s dances are evening-length works performed to percussive sounds, a capella vocalizations, music by contemporary composers, and the spoken word, arising from librettos written by poets and novelists. Notable among these is ...