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Claude Conyers

(b Philadelphia, PA, Sept 16, 1905; d Chicago, Nov 19, 1951). American ballet dancer, choreographer, teacher, and company director. She began taking ballet classes from her mother, Caroline Littlefield, at age three and continued her studies throughout her youth with prominent teachers in New York City and Paris. In the early 1920s she appeared on Broadway in five productions by Florenz Ziegfeld, after which she returned home and spent some years working with her mother at the Philadelphia Civic Opera and teaching in her school. In ...

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Claude Conyers

(b West Allis, WI, Aug 2, 1911; d Kingston, NY, Aug 30, 1982). American ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Having studied at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet, he joined the American Ballet in 1936 and then Ballet Caravan, Lincoln Kirsten’s company formed to foster American choreography. For that company he created ...

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Allan Thomas

( b 1796; d 1866). Scottish dancing-master . He was the most prominent member of a family of dance teachers in Scotland in the early 19th century, whose descendants numbered more than 20 teachers over five generations and who were active in Scotland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for some 200 years. With his brothers John, Robert and James, Lowe was influential in establishing Scottish dance in a modern ballroom form. The brothers taught in different parts of Scotland and together wrote ...

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Mary Skeaping

(b Naples, fl 1755–79). Italian dancer in the grotesque style, choreographer and teacher. He is important mainly for his Trattato teorico-prattico di ballo (Naples, 1779; Eng. trans., 1988). This rare work is the only one so far discovered that connects the development of the formalized theatrical dance techniques of the late 18th century with the pre-Romantic movement of the early 19th. Considerable space is given to the use of music for dancing, attention being drawn to the rules that govern both arts and to the essential concordance of dance with its music. There is emphasis on the necessity of the dancer’s knowing music and on the ill consequences of ignorance of this subject. Importance is given to the choice of dance music suitable to the type of theatre, and to the plight of the musician who does not give due thought to this problem. Technical steps, the minuet and 39 contredanses, with music and diagrams, are fully described....

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Claude Conyers

(b Jacksonville, FL, May 26, 1914; d New York, April 27, 2009). American swing dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Reared in Harlem, he began attending dances for teenagers at the Alhambra Ballroom, where he learned the newly popular Lindy hop. Developing a passion for the dance, he practiced until he became highly proficient. In the early 1930s, he was invited to join Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, an elite performing group at the Savoy Ballroom. There he became famous for his rhythmically rich and acrobatic style of dance, launching his partners through the air at high speeds to the swinging sounds of Chick Webb, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie. His stardom at the Savoy led to an engagement at the Cotton Club in ...

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Claude Conyers

(b New York, July 6, 1930). American modern dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Of Jamaican heritage, he grew up in Harlem where he learned all the popular dances of the 1940s and experienced West Indian music and dance on social occasions. Inspired by a performance of African dance by Pearl Primus, he auditioned for and won a scholarship to the New Dance Group in ...

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John H. Baron and Georgie Durosoir

(b c1615; d Paris, April 18, 1688). French dancer, composer, poet, lutenist and lute teacher. He was director of entertainments for the Countess of Soissons from at least 1636 until her death in 1644; it was her patronage that enabled him to enter the court. He became a royal lutenist in ...

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Norton Owen

(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 ...

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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 (...

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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....

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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 ...