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Margaret M. McGowan

(b c1630; d after 1666). French dancer, instrumentalist and composer. His first name is unknown. He regularly performed in court ballets from 1653, when he was mentioned as playing the role of ‘une assez laide bourgeoise’ in Le ballet de la nuit, to 1666, when he danced as a muse in ...

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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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 (...

Article

Rainer E. Lotz

[Jackson, Laurence ]

(b Baltimore, Feb 23, 1921; d May 1974). American singer and tap-dancer. He first sang professionally at the age of 11, touring with Don Redman. During a period at Dickie Wells’s club in New York he learned to tap-dance, and from the mid-1930s he performed with several dance groups. He worked steadily through the 1940s, appearing with the bands of Count Basie, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and others; during a tenure as a tap-dancer at the Spotlite Club, New York, he traded fours with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Bud Powell (c1947). Laurence emphasized footwork, performing tap-dances almost as if they were drum solos, and he was one of the few jazz dancers who felt comfortable with the rhythms of bop. Illness prevented him from working for many years, but he later recorded as a leader the album Dancemaster (c1958–60, CJ 30), accompanied by such all-star musicians as Paul Quinichette, Bobby Jaspar, and Roland Hanna. He visited London about ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Deane L. Root

[Klasen, Gertrud Alexandra Dagmar Lawrence ]

(b London, July 4, 1898; d New York, Sept 6, 1952). English actress, singer and dancer. She was a child performer in pantomime and musicals and from 1916 appeared in revue in London. She introduced ‘Parisian Pierrot’ by her lifelong friend Noël Coward in his revue London Calling (1923), and her New York début in the London show André Charlot’s Revue of 1924 (in which she sang ‘Limehouse Blues’) brought her immediately to the attention of leading American songwriters; her first successful song was You were meant for me by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake. George and Ira Gershwin wrote the musicals Oh, Kay! (1926, including ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’) and Treasure Girl (1928) for her. Lawrence also performed spoken drama in both England and the USA, notably Private Lives (1930) with Noël Coward, but in 1933 appeared on Broadway in Porter’s ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Michael Tenzer

(b Peliatan, ?1912; d Denpasar, Nov 18, 1996). Balinese musician. As a youth he travelled slightly south to the village of Sukawati, where he learnt the legong dance repertory from one of its primary exponents, Dewa Ketut Blacing, and then taught it to the gamelan in his own village, Peliatan, in Bali's south-central regency of Gianyar. He also worked closely with the celebrated composer Wayan Lotring. Lebah was especially renowned as a drummer for legong and for the delicate gamelan accompaniment to performances of arja theatre. In 1931 the Dutch administration in Bali sent the Peliatan gamelan group, of which he was a leading member, to perform at the Exposition Coloniale Internationale in Paris. Throughout the 1930s Lebah was a principal collaborator with Colin McPhee, the composer-musicologist who lived and worked on Bali. The two thoroughly explored the musical life of the island, an experience that provided Lebah with unusually extensive first-hand knowledge. He travelled abroad again in ...

Article

Patrick O’Connor

(b Münster, July 4, 1963). German singer, actress and dancer. She began to study music in her home town at the age of nine, and later took acting classes at the Max Reinhardt Seminary in Vienna. In 1986 she played in the Vienna production of Lloyd Webber's Cats, subsequently appearing in Berlin in Peter Pan and then toured as Sally Bowles in Cabaret to Lyons, Düsseldorf, Rome and Paris. She also began to give recitals of songs by Kurt Weill and to record his music. Although her style seemed classical, she used transpositions, and her interpretations aroused controversy among Weill critics. Her recordings, however, were bestsellers. A close collaboration with the composer Michael Nyman includes his Songbook and Six Celan Songs as well as contributions to his music for Peter Greenaway’s film Prospero's Books. With the conductor Robert Ziegler, Lemper revived songs from the 1920s Berlin cabaret repertory by Hollaender, Spoliansky, Nelson and others. In ...

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Article

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 ...

Article

J. Ryan Bodiford

[J.Lo ]

(b Bronx, NY, July 24, 1969). American Puerto Rican actress, singer, dancer, producer, and entrepreneur. She is the highest paid Latina actress to date and has attracted similar commercial appeal as a pop, hip hop, and Latin-influenced recording artist, selling over 55 million albums in the first decade of her musical career.

The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, Lopez participated in minor film and theater productions from an early age. Following high school, she attended numerous auditions before landing her first major gig in 1991 as a “fly girl” dancer on the sketch-comedy program In Living Color. In 1997 she gained attention with her Golden Globe-nominated performance in the film Selena. She has since starred in box office hits such as The Wedding Planner (2001), Maid in Manhattan (2002), and Monster in Law (2005).

Already an established actress, Lopez launched her singing career in ...

Article

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....

Article

Michael Tenzer

(b Kuta, Bali, ?1883; d Kuta, 1983). Balinese composer, performer and dancer. He was a pre-eminent figure in Balinese music between the Dutch takeover in 1906 and the onset of World War II, a crucial period during which the old court system was in decline and the performing arts were enjoying a new secular and popular role. Lotring trained as a dancer at the court of Blahbatuh. Until retreating from public life in the late 1940s he drummed, choreographed and taught music to gamelan clubs in Kuta and throughout southern Bali. As well as instrumental works mainly for gamelan ensembles of the palegongan type, he reworked the legong dance form with elements of the modern kebyar style. He taught his music in numerous villages, freely reworking his compositions each time, so that contrasting variants of each work exist. The instrumental pieces achieved wide success in the 1920s and 30s as preludes for dances or dramas given in recreational contexts. Their rhapsodic, distinctively modern forms, innovative textures and patterns, and assimilation of materials from older gamelan genres (such as the incorporation of the 5 + 3 rhythm of ...

Article

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 Lowes’ Ball-Conductor and Assembly Guide (Edinburgh, c1830), one of the most extensive 19th-century dance manuals. Joseph Lowe also published many arrangements of Scottish dance-tunes for the piano. From 1851 to 1860 he was dance tutor to the family of Queen Victoria, and his journal of these years gives an insight into his teaching at Windsor and Balmoral. His workbook, which contains step descriptions of dances and some entries by his son Joseph Eager Lowe, who taught in New Zealand and Australia, is in the National Library of New Zealand....

Article

Jérôme de La Gorce

[Lulli, Giovanni Battista]

Member of Lully family

(b Florence, Nov 28, 1632; d Paris, March 22, 1687). Composer, dancer and instrumentalist of Italian birth.

Lully's origins were modest. His father, Lorenzo (1599–1667), seems to have come from peasant stock; like his ancestors, he was born in Tuscany in the Mugello area and probably at Campestri, where he, his brothers and a cousin owned a chestnut wood. By the age of twenty he was living in Florence, and in 1620 he married a miller's daughter, Catarina del Sera (or del Seta). They had three children: Verginio (1621–38), Giovanni Battista and Margherita (d 1639). Little is known about the education of the younger son. He may have learnt writing and arithmetic at an early age from his father, who became a miller and a businessman, but the boy probably had to turn to the Franciscan friars of the Via Borgo Ognissanti, where his parents lived, for his introduction to music and instruction on the guitar and violin, which he must have learnt in his youth. According to Le Cerf de la Viéville, his first music master was ‘a good Franciscan friar’. It is not known how he came to be chosen to go to France as an Italian tutor to Louis XIV's cousin Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans, known as the ‘Grande Mademoiselle’, who was studying the language at the time, but he was engaged by the princess's uncle Roger de Lorraine, the chevalier de Guise, who visited Florence in ...

Article

Robert Skinner

[Beaty, Shirley MacLean ]

(b Richmond, VA, April 24, 1934). American Actress, singer, and dancer. She trained as a ballet dancer but decided while still in high school to pursue a career on Broadway. She was a chorus girl in the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway musical Oklahoma in 1950 and in Me and Juliet in 1953. In 1954 her performance as a replacement for the Pajama Game’s injured leading dancer was much acclaimed and subsequently led to a long and varied entertainment career. She has sung and danced in such film musicals as Artists and Models (1955), Can-Can (1960), What a Way to Go! (1964), and Sweet Charity (1969). Most of her more than 50 films are not musical comedies, though, and it is for these that she has been nominated for six Academy awards (winner in 1984) and 19 Golden Globe awards (four wins). MacLaine has simultaneously pursued successful careers as a television entertainer (three Emmy Awards) and as a performer in her own stage revues including ...

Article

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....