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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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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 ...

Article

[Carlo]

(b Naples, 1744; d St Petersburg, 1806). French choreographer and dancer. As a youth he was influenced by the Noverrian form of ballet en action. His initial contract as figurant at Stuttgart from February 1760, shortly before Noverre’s arrival, was extended in 1761 for six more years, with the additional clause that he be given special instruction by Noverre in ‘Serieux-Tanzen’. By 1766 he was a leading dancer. After Noverre’s departure in 1767 Le Picq transferred to Vienna, where in 1765 he had already come into contact with Hilverding, an early exponent of dramatic dance. He may also have appeared in Warsaw. When Noverre took over at Vienna in late 1767 Le Picq became principal dancer. In 1769 he moved to Italy and, apart from two short visits to Paris to dance under Noverre (1776, 1778), remained until early 1782. He choreographed his first work, a Noverre revival, at Padua in ...