Happy Birthday to the “Father of Jazz Dance,” Jack Cole

Jack Cole (originally John Ewing Richter) was born on April 27th, 1911 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Following his parents’ divorce, Cole ran away from home to study dance with Rush St. Denis and Ted Shawn. He quickly joined the Denishawn Company and also performed with the Humphrey-Weidman Group before leaving the modern dance world to pursue a commercial dance career.

Cole choreographed for the nightclub scene, Broadway stage, and silver screen throughout the mid-twentieth century. He founded a troupe of twelve dancers (which included the likes of Gwen Verdon, Carol Haney, and Matt Mattox) to serve as the core ensemble in much of his highly technical work. Some of Cole’s Broadway choreography credits included ALIVE AND KICKING (1950), KISMET (1962), A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM (1962), and MAN OF LA MANCHA (1965). In Hollywood, Cole worked on such iconic films as “On The Riviera” (1951), “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953), and “Some Like It Hot” (1959) and coached starlets like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Mitzi Gaynor, and Betty Grable.

Cole, who is now known as the “father of theatrical jazz,” drew upon East Indian, Afro-Cuban, and American Lindy dance styles as the foundation of his sensual, vigorous, and incredibly meticulous choreography. Signature movements included grand, bounding leaps from a deep plié, upper body contractions with strong port de bras, long knee slides across the stage, and isolations of the head, hands and individual fingers. Cole’s powerfully theatrical and informed work inspired the next generation of choreographers including Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Michael Bennett, Peter Gennaro, and Alvin Ailey, and his legacy continues to inspire dance today.

 

 

Mimi in Milan

Last month Mimi Quillin visited Milan, Italy and was welcomed to teach at the Centro Danzaricerca.  The studio, owned and operated by Agnese Riccatelli, was founded over thirty years ago and their students are currently in the finals of “Italy’s Got Talent.”  Mimi taught the Bob Fosse’s iconic “Rich Man’s Frug” from SWEET CHARITY, for which she served as dance captain and assistant to Bob and Gwen for the 1986 Broadway revival.

Mimi and Centro Danzaricerca owner, Agnese Riccatelli

Mimi teaching the “sit step” from “The Aloof”

dancers performing “The Big Finish”

For more information about Centro Dazaricerca visit www.danzaricerca.it.  To have one of our Legacy-sanctioned reconstructeurs visit your school or studio for master classes, e-mail theverdonfosselegacyllc@gmail.com

Julio Bocca: A Tribute To A Dance Legend

On Friday, April 14th San Francisco Ballet dancer, Vitor Luiz, performed “Percussion 4” in honor of Julio Bocca’s celebration gala.  The gala was part of YAGP’s Legends in Dance series. Bocca personally requested that the solo (originally from Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’) be reconstructed for the evening of performances as dancing it (pictured below) in FOSSE on Broadway was one of his career highlights.  Lloyd Culbreath reconstructed “Percussion 4” on Luiz with the help of assistants Marissa Calabrese and Michael McArthur.  It was an incredible evening of dance and celebration.  Congratulations, Julio!