It’s International Choreographers Day, so let’s celebrate the amazing men and women who created iconic Broadway dances. Though these brilliant choreographers have many credits to their names, we’ve only listed a few exemplary shows – which just happen to be Tams-Witmark musicals! Here they are, in alphabetical order:
1. Michael Bennett
(PROMISES, PROMISES, A CHORUS LINE, DREAMGIRLS)
This brilliant director, writer, choreographer, and dancer won seven Tony Awards and was nominated for eleven more. Bennett took a fresh and innovative look at each of his new projects, and never repeated a gimmick. Tragically, he died from AIDS-related lymphoma at the age of 44, but his legendary work lives on.
2. Gower Champion
(BYE BYE BIRDIE, CARNIVAL, HELLO, DOLLY!, HIGH SPIRITS, SUGAR, IRENE, 42ND STREET)
Winner of an astonishing eight Tony Awards, Gower Champion may have achieved his greatest success posthumously: he died just ten hours before the opening night performance of 42ND STREET, his longest-running Broadway musical.
3. Jack Cole
(JAMAICA, MAN OF LA MANCHA)
The “Father of Theatrical Jazz Dance,” Jack Cole virtually invented Broadway dancing. His angular, acrobatic style greatly influenced later choreographers like Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett, and Jerome Robbins.
4. Agnes De Mille
(BLOOMER GIRL, GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, 110 IN THE SHADE)
The reigning monarch of the Dream Ballet, Agnes De Mille brought her extensive ballet training to popular musicals, pioneering the expansion and development of character through musical theatre dance.
5. Ron Field
(CABARET, APPLAUSE, ON THE TOWN Revival)
A former Broadway dancer himself, Ron Field won three Tonys and two Emmys for his work, which ranged from high-concept stage musicals to glitzy televised awards shows.
6. Bob Fosse
(BELLS ARE RINGING, LITTLE ME, SWEET CHARITY, CABARET Film)
There was only one Bob Fosse. Winner of 8 Tony Awards for choreography (more than anyone else), Fosse introduced a quirky, angular style that was uniquely identifiable. Exploring the dancer’s subtext and creatively broadening the use of lighting and props, Fosse was unafraid to tackle dark subject matter and expand the scope of theatre dance.
7. Michael Kidd
(FINIAN’S RAINBOW, CAN-CAN, LI’L ABNER, DESTRY RIDES AGAIN, WILDCAT, HELLO, DOLLY! Film)
Known for his muscular, athletic dance numbers, Michael Kidd choreographed over two dozen Broadway shows and a dozen films. His diverse work always reflected his philosophy that dancing should develop directly – and beautifully – from realistic movement and gestures.
8. Kathleen Marshall
(NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, Revivals of KISS ME, KATE WONDERFUL TOWN and ANYTHING GOES)
With a mastery of traditional Broadway pizzazz, Kathleen Marshall has revitalized many musical theatre classics. “I love theater that challenges and provokes,” she says, “but I also think there’s a place in the world for theater that entertains and transports.”
9. Jerome Robbins
(ON THE TOWN, HIGH BUTTON SHOES, WONDERFUL TOWN, SILK STOCKINGS, BELLS ARE RINGING, GYPSY, FUNNY GIRL)
Notoriously driven and demanding, Robbins created some of the most famous theatre dance in Broadway history. In addition to his 30+ Broadway credits, he choreographed for film, television, and classical ballet, amassing an enormous body of work.
10. Onna White
(TAKE ME ALONG, IRMA LA DOUCE, MAME, ILLYA DARLING, BYE BYE BIRDIE Film)
This Canadian choreographer and dancer made her Broadway debut in the ensemble of FINIAN’S RAINBOW in 1947, and went on to choreograph the show’s 1955 revival. White’s career spanned four decades, earning her eight Tony nominations.
If you enjoyed reading about these amazing artists, here are a few more to investigate!
- Hanya Holm (KISS ME, KATE)
- Joe Layton (GEORGE M!, DEAR WORLD, BARNUM, BRING BACK BIRDIE)
- Susan Stroman (CRAZY FOR YOU)
- Tommy Tune (THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES)
Happy International Choreographers Day!