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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 1935 Caroline and Catherine founded the Littlefield Ballet, with Caroline as artistic director and Catherine as choreographer and première danseuse. After its first performances, the company’s name was changed to the Philadelphia Ballet.

With the single exception of Alexis Dolinoff, the premier danseur, the Philadelphia Ballet was composed of American dancers. Its large repertory consisted of mostly lightweight pieces choreographed by Catherine, but the company did perform the first American staging of ...

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Claude Conyers

[LeRoy Kerperstein ]

(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 Harlequin for President (1936; music by Scarlatti), Yankee Clipper (1937; music by Paul Bowles), Billy the Kid (1938; music by Aaron Copeland), his most successful work, and City Portrait (1939; music by Henry Brant). For Ballet Theater’s inaugural performance, he created The Great American Goof (1940; music by Henry Brant, libretto by William Saroyan), which was a dismal failure. He had better luck with Prairie and The Duke of Sacramento, or Hobo of the Hills (both, 1942; music by Norman Dello Joio), works created for his own short-lived company, Dance Players....

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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 1936, an overseas tour in 1937, a featured part in The Hot Mikado (1939) at the New York World’s Fair, and appearances in the Hollywood films ...

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(fl Mantua, 1580–1608). Italian singer, lutenist, dancer and choreographer . He appears in court records from Mantua from about 1580. For the wedding of Duke Vincenzo I and Margherita Farnese, he arranged the dances for Bernardo Pino da Cagli's Ingiusti sdegni, presented in Parma in 1584 by the Jewish theatrical company of Mantua. In 1591–2 he was commissioned to provide the dances for the performance in Mantua of Battista Guarini's Pastor fido, which was postponed until 1598; Massarano planned the dance scheme for the ‘Gioco della cieca’. Other productions on which he collaborated were Leone de' Sommi's Le tre sorelle (1598) and Torquato Tasso's Delli intrighi de amor (1606). In 1608 Massarano appeared, together with Salamone Rossi, in an entertainment at the home of the Paduan nobleman Pietro Priuli.

FenlonMM E. Birnbaum: Jüdische Musiker am Hofe von Mantua von 1542–1628 (Vienna, 1893; It. trans., rev., 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 1947. There he trained in modern dance, ballet, tap, and various ethnic dance traditions, and within a year he had made his professional début and had choreographed his first dance, Saturday’s Child (1948), set to the poetry of Countee Cullen. He went on to develop a diverse career as dancer and choreographer in concert dance, musical theater, television, and film.

McKayle formed his own dance group in 1951 and made three major works for it: Games (1951), performed to a capella singing and chanting by the dancers; ...

Article

Kyle Gann

(Jane)

(b New York, Nov 20, 1942). American composer, singer, dancer and choreographer. She attended Sarah Lawrence College (BA 1964), where she studied a combination of theatre, dance and music. On her return to New York, she became involved in the James Tenney-Philip Corner-Malcolm Goldstein-Morton Feldman experimental music scene, and in the happenings and performance art of the Judson Theater. In her first important piece, 16-Millimeter Earrings (1966), she filmed herself dancing and made her own experimental soundtrack by running three tape loops simultaneously. Her first large theatre work, Juice (1969), an attempt to overturn concert conventions, was performed on three non-consecutive nights over a six-week period in three different and increasingly smaller spaces.

During the early 1970s Monk concentrated primarily on solo work and singing. The majority of her early works are for solo voice, or voice and piano. Despite her activity in other media (she is as often written about by dance, theatre and performance art critics as by music critics), her lithe vocal effects are her most characteristic trademark. Her repertory of vocal techniques includes glottal stops, Amerindian-style vibrato, nasal singing, nonsense syllables and child-like vocal tones, sounds featured in Balkan singing, Tibetan chanting and other non-Western traditions. ...

Article

Claude Conyers

(b Seattle, Aug 29, 1956). American modern dancer, choreographer, company director, conductor, and opera director. Taught to read music and introduced to folk dance and ballet by his parents, he was encouraged to pursue a career as a dancer. After moving to New York City in 1980, he formed the Mark Morris Dance Group and unleashed a flow of choreographic creativity of unusual diversity. His body of work, created not only for his own company but for numerous modern dance, ballet, and opera companies in North America and Europe, is acclaimed for its craftsmanship, ingenuity, humor, and eclectic musical accompaniments. Many of his major works are set to the music of Bach, Handel, Purcell, and other European masters, but he has also choreographed important works to music by American composers. Notable are Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes (1988; music by Virgil Thomson), Somebody’s Coming to See Me Tonight...

Article

G. Yvonne Kendall

[‘Il Trombone’]

(b Milan, Italy, c. 1536; d Milan, Italy 1602). Italian dance master, choreographer, and author of the dance manual Le gratie d’amore (1602). According to Negri himself, he was Milanese by birth and the father of Margherita. He described his wife Isabella de Negri (née di Nave) as a ‘townswoman . . . an excellent ballerina’. Diocesan records also identify four children – Livia (b 1573), Ottavia (b 1575), Jacobo Filippo (b 1583), and the aforementioned Margherita (b 1585). Negri’s mother, Magdalena di Marchi, apparently resided with the family. Little mention is made of his father, Jacobo Antonio, aside from a citation in a Bibliotheca scriptorum mediolanensium (1745) by Philippi Argelati Bononiensis: ‘Hujusmodi est Caesar de Nigris Jacobo Antonio patre in hac Urbe genitus, & cognomento dictus il Trombone’ (‘An example of this is Cesare Negri, born in this city to his father Jacobo Antonio, and nicknamed the Trombone’)....

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