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Nils Schiørring

(b Copenhagen, April 28, 1757; d Copenhagen, Aug 9, 1835). Danish composer, dancer and violinist. In 1772 he joined the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen as a dancer, and in 1775 became a member of the court chapel. The dancer and choreographer Vincenzo Galeotti, recognizing Schall’s ability, appointed him répétiteur and director of ballet at the Royal Theatre in 1776; he also engaged Schall to compose music for many of his ballets. After travelling in the late 1780s to Paris, Dresden, Berlin and Prague (where he met Mozart), Schall returned to Copenhagen in 1792 to take Hartmann’s place as Konzertmeister at the Opera, working successively under J.A.P. Schulz and F.L.A. Kunzen. In 1795 Schall became composer to the Royal Ballet and in 1818 music director at the Opera, where he remained until 1834; he conducted the première of Weber’s Freischütz overture there in 1820.

Though self-taught as a composer, Schall was rated highly by his contemporaries, and his experience as a violinist (he played in the court chapel from ...

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Shakira  

J. Ryan Bodiford

[Mebarak Ripoll, Shakira Isabel ]

(b Barranquilla, Colombia, Feb 2, 1977). American Singer, songwriter, dancer, and philanthropist. The daughter of a Colombian mother and an American-born father of Lebanese descent, Shakira demonstrated her talents in the performing arts at an early age. After winning local talent competitions and establishing a dance troupe at the modeling school which she attended, Shakira began her professional career at age 13 when she was awarded a three-album record deal with Sony Music. She has since become a globally renowned singer, songwriter, dancer, and philanthropist, whose musical style incorporates rock, pop, Latin rhythms, and Arabic infusions.

Following two commercial flops, Shakira established her popularity throughout Latin America with her 1996 release, Pies descalzos. This album produced a series of pan–Latin American hits and sold more than four million copies. Her fan base was extended further into the non-Spanish speaking world with the Middle Eastern tinged worldwide hit, “Ojos así,” produced by Emilio Estefan and included on the album ...

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Stephen Slawek

(b Udaipur, Dec 8, 1900; d Calcutta, Sept 26, 1977). Indian dancer and choreographer. He was the eldest son of Pandit Shyam Shankar Choudhury and the elder brother of the sitār player and composer Ravi Shankar. He showed a strong interest in the performing and expressive arts during his childhood, performing his own interpretations of the traditional dances of Rajasthan and staging magic shows for his family and friends. In 1918 he began to study art at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay. At the request of his father, who had moved to London in the services of the Maharaja of Jhalawar, Shankar enrolled in the Royal College of Art in London in 1920. Sir William Rothenstein, the Principal of that institution, took an interest in Shankar, advising him to study the Indian paintings housed in the British Museum. Shankar’s earlier attraction to dance was nurtured by his growing understanding of the movements he found represented in the artworks which he studied. Soon after graduating in ...

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Norton Owen

[Edwin Myers ]

(b Kansas City, MO, Oct 21, 1891; d Orlando, FL, Jan 9, 1972). American dancer, choreographer, teacher, writer and impresario. He is regarded as the father of modern dance in America. While studying to become a minister at age 19, Shawn was paralyzed by a bout of diphtheria, and dance was prescribed as physical therapy. He first trained in ballet and achieved some success presenting exhibition ballroom dances, but his artistic life truly began in 1914 when he first performed with Ruth St. Denis, whom he married that same year. During the next fifteen years, the activities of their Denishawn Company and School made history and spawned a new generation of modern dancers. Shawn was instrumental in shaping the early careers of Martha Graham, Charles Weidman, Doris Humphrey and Jack Cole.

Shawn and St. Denis separated in 1930 and dissolved Denishawn. With the subsequent purchase of a rundown Massachusetts farm known as Jacob’s Pillow, Shawn laid the groundwork both for his revolutionary company of men dancers and for America’s oldest dance festival. Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers toured from ...

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Howard Rye

[Godbolt, Jimmy ]

(b Atlanta, Oct 2, 1927; d Hanson, MA, May 16, 2008). American tap-dancer. His family moved to Boston while he was still a baby. He received dance tuition from 1939 and later studied violin at the New England Conservatory. In 1949 he made his professional début with the tap-dancer Jimmy Mitchell, known as Sir Slyde; they called themselves the Slyde Brothers, and it was at this point that he adopted the stage name Jimmy Slyde. In the 1950s he toured seaside resorts along the East Coast with various shows and worked in California with Teddy Edwards and Hampton Hawes. He visited Europe in 1966 and toured South America with the Legends of Jazz in the show 1000 Years of Jazz in the early 1970s. In 1972 he returned to Europe with Milt Buckner and Jo Jones and settled in France, where he recorded Just You, Just Me (...

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John L. Clark Jr.

(b Chattanooga, TN, 2 June ?1900; d New York, NY, May 30, 1956). American singer, trumpeter, and dancer. Daughter of a mixed-race couple who were both entertainers and musicians, she learned several instruments before deciding to concentrate on trumpet. By the 1920s she was touring the T.O.B.A. circuit with various revues, and in 1926 she visited Shanghai. In 1935, her performance in Blackbirds of 1934 brought her to England, where she began making records that showed her chief instrumental and vocal influence to be Louis Armstrong. After a brief return in 1936 to the United States, where she performed with Earl Hines in Chicago and made films in Hollywood, Snow moved to Europe, where she made more films and recordings. She was incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp in Denmark in 1940 and was badly injured before being exchanged in 1943. After a recuperation period she continued touring and recording until her death during a comeback appearance at the Palace Theatre. Snow stands out from other women performers of her time in that she was known as much as an instrumentalist as a singer. Her extensive touring probably cost her the name recognition that professional stability might have brought, but her recordings show her to have been a fine, swing-influenced trumpeter and vocalist....

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Barbara Palfy

(b Hartford, CT, Feb 9, 1910; d New York, March 29, 2000). American dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Born into a family of Russian-Jewish immigrants, she followed an older sister to dance classes at New York’s Emanuel Sisterhood Settlement House and ultimately to the Henry Street Playhouse in their Lower East Side neighborhood. There she was taught by Blanche Talmud and met Louis Horst and Martha Graham, with whose company she danced (1930–38), also assisting Horst’s choreography classes at Henry Street’s Neighborhood Playhouse. Fundamentally a modern dancer, she did study for a year at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School.

So enamored of dance and so talented was Anna that she left formal education in her mid-teens to pursue dance and independently earn a living at it when her father’s incapacitation and early death left the family struggling. Her mother, a strong and socially engaged woman, exposed her daughters to the social consciousness movements of the day, an awareness that infiltrated most of Sokolow’s work. She also came to know and collaborate with young experimental composers like Alex North and Teo Macero, and was equally drawn to the music of serious concert composers like Berg and Scriabin....

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Maureen Needham

(b Milan, Nov 5, 1777; d Como, Feb 11, 1871). Italian dancer and choreographer. In 1794 he became first dancer at the Teatro dei Nobili, Pisa, where his father Carlo was ballet-master. After touring Italy, 1796–8, he went to Paris to study with J.-F. Coulon, making his début at the Opéra in La caravane (1799). He worked at the Royal Opera, Stockholm, in 1803–4, and at the Hoftheater, Vienna, in 1805, before undertaking an extended European tour. Taglioni’s importance lies mainly in his choreography for the premières, all at the Paris Opéra, of Auber’s Le dieu et la bayadère (1830) and Gustave III (1833), Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable (1831) and Les Huguenots (1836), and Halévy’s La Juive (1835). That for Robert, including the famous ‘Scène des nonnes’ in which 50 dancers dressed in white wafted through the ghostly cloister, made theatrical history: the first ...

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Barbara Palfy

(b New York, NY, April 23, 1903; d New York, NY, Aug 4, 1966). American dancer, choreographer, teacher, theater director, and organizer. The daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants living frugally on the Lower East Side, she so often danced on the streets that the family enrolled her in the famous children’s dance classes given by Irene Lewisohn and Blanche Talmud at the Henry Street Settlement House. Smitten with dance and showing talent, she did complete high school but when still a teenager auditioned for and was accepted into the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, where she was trained in classical technique and appeared for four seasons.

Not only a fine dancer but a beauty, she was taken into the Bracale Opera Company for its 1920 South American tour, during which an admirer called her Tamiris, exotic and ruthless Persian queen of poetry, the name she adopted professionally. More ballet training followed, in Russian technique with Michel Fokine in New York, until she saw a concert by Isadora Duncan and was moved to study “natural” dancing....

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William Brooks

(b Marbleton, PQ, Aug 1, 1878; d Hollywood, CA, Jan 11, 1947). American singer and dancer of Canadian birth. Her family moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, in the early 1880s, where she played the child leads in stock companies from the age of eight. In 1901 she was performing in My Lady when an altercation with a chorus girl made her a celebrity. Two years later she had more substantial roles in The Office Boy and The Chaperones, and in 1904 she achieved stardom, playing the leading role with her own company in The Sambo Girl. Thereafter her career was primarily in vaudeville, where routines were tailored to her unique blend of humour and audacity. She vaunted her theme song I don’t care (by Lennox and Sutton, 1905), scandalized the prudish with an outrageous version of Salome’s dance, and fought uproariously and continually with managers, critics and other performers. In the 1910s she was the highest-paid vaudeville artist in America, and her career continued unabated until she was weakened by illness in the late 1920s. Her substantial fortune was lost in the great crash of ...

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Claude Conyers

(b Edgewood, PA, July 29, 1930). American modern dancer, choreographer, and company director. He had his first dance training, did his first dance performance, and choreographed his first dance, Hobo Ballet, at Syracuse University, where he was an art student with a partial scholarship as a swimmer. Upon graduation, he moved to New York City in 1952 and continued his training in modern dance and ballet with prominent teachers. By 1954 he had assembled a small company of dancers and was making his own works, beginning with Jack and the Beanstalk (1954; music by Hy Gubernick). Tall, handsome, athletic, and a dynamic performer, he joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1955 for the first of seven seasons as soloist while continuing to choreograph and dance with his own troupe. After creating the slyly funny Three Epitaphs (1956; music by the Laneville-Johnson Union Brass Band) and experimental works such as the infamous ...

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Todd Decker

(b Santa Monica, CA, April 23, 1928; d Woodside, CA, Feb 10, 2014). American actress, singer, and dancer. Temple began dance lessons and appeared in her first films at age three. After making shorts for Educational Films Corporation, Temple signed with Fox in December 1933. Stand Up and Cheer!, Little Miss Marker, and Bright Eyes (all 1934) launched her as a child star. Over the next six years, Temple made 18 films at the newly consolidated Twentieth Century-Fox, which benefitted greatly from having the top star of the time. The Exhibitors’ Box Office Poll declared her the number one box office draw from 1934 to 1938. Temple’s movies were on the short side: only one exceeds 90 minutes in length. These uplifting tales for a Depression-weary nation followed a predictable formula. Temple played a resilient youngster, usually lacking one or both parents, whose cheery personality brought together a group of contentious adults, providing Temple with a stable home in the final reel. Often her films included the death of a character, typically a parent or caretaker. In her films, Temple danced and sang such tunes as “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and “Animal Crackers in My Soup.” She sang with clear diction, fine rhythmic control, a sure sense of pitch, and tremendous vocal personality: her singing voice was every bit as unmistakable as her curly hair. Darryl Zanuck, head of Twentieth Century-Fox, refused to allow his musical stars to make records and declined most radio offers, so the only place to hear Temple sing was in her movies. She was just as precociously skilled at dancing, as showcased in the tap routine “I Love a Military Man” (...

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[Jean Antoine ]

( fl 1755–92). French choreographer and dancer . His activities were concentrated in Venice, where he produced ballets for more than three dozen operas between 1755 and 1792. Much of his work was for the Teatro S Moisè during the 1770s and 80s, in operas by Traetta, Guglielmi, Bertoni, Astarita and Anfossi, among others, but he also created ballets for the S Samuele (1755–6, 1760, 1780–81), S Benedetto (1760, 1768–9), S Cassiano (1765, 1791–2), and S Salvatore (1767) theatres. In addition he worked as a dancer and choreographer in a number of other Italian cities, including Pistoia (1755, 1767), Rome (1757, 1761, 1778), Parma (1761), Reggio Emilia (1763), Milan (1766) and Turin (1778–9). About 1760 he married the ballerina Anna Conti-Nadi de Sales (detta la Russiene), and apparently adopted her son Federico Nadi. Federico worked at opera houses in Italy from the mid-1760s to the early 90s, often in productions with his parents; in ...

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Rob Bowman

(b Cayce, MS, March 27, 1917; d Memphis, TN, Dec 15, 2001). American singer, songwriter, dancer, comedian, and radio announcer. One of Thomas’s earliest gigs was as part of the dance team Rufus and Johnny with the legendary Rabbit Foot Minstrels. He later forged a distinguished career as a comic (in the duo “Rufus and Bones”) and master of ceremonies at all of the important black theaters in Memphis. In the early 1950s Thomas hosted the daily “Sepia Swing Club” and “Hoot ‘n’ Holler” shows on local black appeal radio station WDIA. Beginning in 1949, Thomas recorded for Star Talent, Meteor, Chess, and, most notably, Memphis’ Sun Records before signing with Satellite (soon-to-be Stax) Records in 1960. His most successful recording pre-Stax was an answer song conceived as a response to Big Mama Thornton’s R&B hit “Hound Dog.” Titled “Bear Cat” and released in 1953, the record was Sun’s first bona-fide hit, peaking at number three on ...

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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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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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