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Maureen Needham

(b Paris, Oct 30, 1631; d Paris, early Feb 1705). French dancer, choreographer, composer and conductor. He has been wrongly identified with Charles-Louis Beauchamps. Called the father of all ballet-masters, he codified the five positions of feet and arms, and developed a rational system of dance notation which is now called after Raoul-Auger Feuillet, who published it (in his Chorégraphie, ou L’art de décrire la dance) in 1700.

Beauchamps was Louis XIV’s personal dancing-master and favourite partner in ballets de cour in the 1650s and 60s. Throughout his career he collaborated with Lully, whom he first met as comic dancer in, and later as composer of, ballets de cour. Beauchamps choreographed intermèdes and dances for Molière’s comédies-ballets, beginning with Les fâcheux (1661), for which he also composed the music and conducted the orchestra. He choreographed entrées for Le mariage forcé (1664), Le bourgeois gentilhomme...


John Cowley, Jeffrey Green, and Howard Rye

[Hymans-Johnson [Hijmans-Johnson], Kendrick Reginald ]

(b Georgetown, British Guiana [now Guyana], Sept 10, 1914; d London, March 8, 1941). British Guiana bandleader and dancer. The birthdate of 22 June 1917 given in the first edition of this dictionary derives from an error in the registers of his British school. He had little musical training, but was featured in a comb-and-paper band at Queens College, Georgetown. From 1929 he attended school in England. His interest in dancing developed from his contact with the African-American choreographer Clarence “Buddy” Bradley, and he began working as a dancer and choreographer in 1933; he assisted Bradley with film choreography, and he may be seen dancing in the film Oh Daddy (1934). A tour of the Caribbean in 1935 was interrupted by work in American film studios in April and May, and Johnson allegedly danced for Fletcher Henderson and made two film shorts. He returned to England in ...


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...