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Vera H. Flaig

(b Kan Kan, Guinea, West Africa, 1958). American singer, dancer, and drummer of Guinean birth. As a child, Conde contracted polio, which left him unable to walk by the age of 14. While living with his grandfather in a nearby village, Conde discovered his gift for music. Despite his physical limitations, he learned to dance for his initiation ceremony. From 1984 until 1986, Conde was a member of Bandes 22 de Kan Kan, the official orchestra of Kan Kan. Conde moved to Conakry in 1986 and founded Message de Espior; a traditional dance ensemble of differently-abled Guineans. Since this time Conde has worked as manager of operations for “L’Association nationale de la République de Guinée pour les handicapés.” From 1986 to 1995 Condé was a member of Ballet Communal. In 1987 he joined Conakry’s premiere ballet, Les Merveilles.

Upon his arrival in New York in 1998, Conde founded the drum and dance ensemble ...

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John Koegel

(b Vinaroz, Valencia, Spain, Dec 12, 1890/1892; d Mexico City, Mexico, Sept 4, 1978). Spanish singer and dancer. A star performer in the Mexican entertainment world for eight decades, she was an object of intense media attention in the early 20th century because of the sexual innuendo of the songs she sang and her scandalous private life. She was known as La gatita blanca (“the White Kitty”), after her first appearance in Mexico City in November 1907 in the Spanish zarzuela of the same name, and was celebrated for her abilities as a dancer, comedienne, and singer of light music in Mexican musical revues and Spanish zarzuelas. Conesa was censured for obscenity on stage, including for her performances in La gatita blanca. While in New York, around the period 1907–9, she recorded songs from La gatita blanca as well as other theatrical songs. She appeared in Mexican theaters in Los Angeles in the 1920s and 30s, and on the Spanish-language stage in New York. She also appeared in Mexican films in the 1930s and 40s and on Mexican television. Her recordings of zarzuela songs and theatrical couplets were popular in Latin American communities in the United States....

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Barry Kernfeld

(b Smithville, VA, July 18, 1900; d Nov 1967). American clarinetist, singer, and dancer. In his social security application he gave his place of birth as Smithville (not Smithfield, as it has been published elsewhere). At the age of ten he learned clarinet from his father. When his family moved to Philadelphia he formed a band with his brother Jimmy, who played clarinet and saxophone. During the 1920s and 1930s he enjoyed much success with his own variety act; he appeared at the Sunset Café in Chicago and, around 1928, in the show Blackbirds. His best-known recordings are those he made in 1929 and 1930 as the leader of a group which included Jelly Roll Morton. These and his earlier recordings (1927–8), some of which involved Eddie Lang, display a repetitive but striking improvisatory style on clarinet, characterized by conventional blues formulas (sometimes played with a timbre that resembles that of Bubber Miley’s muted trumpet), extended passages of deliberately paced slap-tonguing, and an extraordinary cackling sound. His playing may be heard in all its variety on ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(?bap. Dorking, March 6, 1682; d London, April 4, 1737). English singer, actress and dancer. Miss Cross was ‘the girl’ in Purcell’s theatre company in the last few months of his life, when he wrote several songs for her, including ‘I attempt from love’s sickness’ (in The Indian Queen), ‘Man is for the woman made’ (The Mock Marriage) and ‘From rosy bowers’ (The Comical History of Don Quixote, part iii). Daniel Purcell and Jeremiah Clarke later wrote for her. A pert and lively personality is indicated by the prologues and epilogues she delivered and her acting roles such as Hoyden in John Vanbrugh’s The Relapse. In 1698 she apparently received 500 guineas for sexual services to Peter the Great during his London visit, and later went to France with ‘a certain baronet’. She returned to sing in the first English opera in the Italian style, ...

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Susan Au

[Mercier Philip ]

(b Centralia, WA, Apr 16, 1919; d New York, NY, July 26, 2009). American dancer, choreographer, and dance company director. He began to study dance in his native Centralia. While attending the Cornish Institute in Seattle, he met John Cage, with whom he formed a lasting and productive partnership. He also studied modern dance at Mills College and the Bennington School of the Dance, and ballet at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet in New York. He performed as a soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company (1939–45), where he originated the role of the Revivalist in Graham’s Appalachian Spring (1944; Aaron Copland). He first began to choreograph in 1942, and in 1944 presented his first solo concert in New York, dancing to music by Cage. In 1953 he formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, with Cage as music director. The two men shared an innovative mindset, which defined the company’s aesthetic mission. The Cunningham school, which trained dancers for the company, was established in ...

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Mary Jo Lodge

(b Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec 8, 1939). American director, choreographer, and performer. Trained in classical ballet at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Daniele became a professional dancer at age 14. She performed for several years with ballet companies in South America and Europe and came to the United States in 1964 to learn American-style jazz dance. She made her Broadway debut in the musical What Makes Sammy Run? that same year, which led to several more Broadway roles. She first assisted prominent Broadway director/choreographers Michael Bennett and Bob Fosse before taking the helm herself on numerous shows, first as a choreographer and then adding the director’s role. She choreographed major Broadway productions as The Pirates of Penzance (1981), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985), and Ragtime (1998), and three Woody Allen films, including Mighty Aphrodite (1995). Daniele’s first Broadway production as a director/choreographer was ...

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(b Montpellier, Aug 19, 1742; d Tours, Feb 14, 1806). French dancer, teacher and choreographer . He danced in Lyons in 1757 under Noverre, who described his pupil as a joyful and dramatically expressive dancer. Within two years Dauberval was ballet-master for the Turin opera house. In 1761 he made a successful début at the Paris Opéra in Rameau’s Zaïs. He performed under Noverre in Stuttgart, 1762–4, appeared at the Haymarket, London, in 1764 and returned in 1766 to the Opéra, where he was appointed assistant ballet-master in 1770. He danced in many revivals of works by Lully and Rameau, and in the premières of Dauvergne’s Polyxène (1763), Louis Granier’s Théonis (1767), P.-M. Berton and J. B. de La Borde’s Adèle de Ponthieu (1772) and Gossec’s Sabinus (2nd version; 1774). From 1781 to 1783 he shared the title of ballet-master with Maximilien Gardel; he was ousted as a result of political intrigues....

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

[Moll]

(b c1650; d London, bur. Feb 24, 1708). English soprano, dancer and actress. From her first appearance on the stage as a girl in the early 1660s Mary Davis was particularly praised, by Pepys and others, for her dancing. Late in 1667 her singing of ‘My lodging it is on the cold ground’ so attracted Charles II that it ‘Rais’d her from her Bed on the Cold Ground, to a Bed Royal’. As his mistress she sang and danced at court, appearing in John Crowne’s masque Calisto in 1675 and singing Venus in Blow’s Venus and Adonis, in which her daughter by the king, Lady Mary Tudor, was Cupid. In 1686 she married the French-born composer and woodwind player James Paisible.

BDA DNB (J. Knight) LS J. Downes: Roscius Anglicanus (London, 1708); ed. J. Milhous and R.D. Hume (London, 1987) J.H. Wilson: All the King’s Ladies...

Article

John Behling

(b New York, NY, Dec 8, 1925; d Beverly Hills, CA, May 16, 1990). American singer, dancer, and actor. Widely regarded as one of the greatest entertainers of his time, he sang, danced, acted, played several instruments, performed comic impersonations, and excelled at the variety entertainment format popular in American vaudeville, nightclubs, and television. His parents were vaudeville dancers frequently on tour, so Davis spent his earliest years with his grandmother. In 1928 his father took Davis on the road, where he made his debut with Will Mastin’s vaudeville review as Silent Sam, the Dancing Midget. Although he began as a dancer, as his talent and reputation grew he incorporated songs and comic impersonations into his act. His final public performance was in 1989 on a television special, The 60th Anniversary Salute to Sammy Davis, Jr. Throughout his long career Davis performed many styles of music, but he is best known for his jazz-influenced performances of Broadway show tunes. He was a member of the Rat Pack, which included Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and together they set the standard for nightclub-style performance before the dominance of rock and roll....