Class Act: A Choreographer's Life

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9780252026294: Class Act: A Choreographer's Life
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Cholly Atkins's career has spanned an extraordinary era of American dance. He began performing during Prohibition and continued his apprenticeship in vaudeville, in nightclubs, and in the army during World War II. With his partner, Honi Coles, Cholly toured the country, performing with such jazz masters as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Count Basie. As tap reached a nadir in the fifties, Cholly created the new specialization of "vocal choreography," teaching rhythm-and-blues singers how to perform their music by adding rhythmical dance steps drawn from twentieth-century American dance, from the Charleston to rhythm tap. For the burgeoning Motown record label, Cholly taught such artists as the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Marvin Gaye to command the stage in ways that would enhance their performances and "sell" their songs.

Class Act tells of Cholly's boyhood and coming of age, his entry into the dance world of New York City, his performing triumphs and personal tragedies, and the career transformations that won him gold records and a Tony for choreographing Black and Blue on Broadway. Chronicling the rise, near demise, and rediscovery of tap dancing, the book is both an engaging biography and a rich cultural history.

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Book Description:

Cholly Atkins's career has spanned an extraordinary era of American dance. With his partner, Honi Coles, Cholly toured the country, performing with such jazz masters as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Count Basie. In the fifties, Cholly created the new specialization of "vocal choreography," teaching such artists as the Supremes, the Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Marvin Gaye how to perform their music by adding rhythmical dance steps drawn from twentieth-century American dance, from the Charleston to rhythm tap. Chronicling the rise, near demise, and rediscovery of tap dancing, the book is both an engaging biography and a rich cultural history.

About the Author:

Cholly Atkins has been a jazz dance artist, choreographer, and director of stage acts for decades. He has been honored by the Smithsonian Institution, the National Endowment for the Arts, and many dance organizations.

Jacqui Malone, who began interviewing Cholly Atkins in 1988, was awarded a Ford Foundation Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship to write this book. Author of Steppin'on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance, she is a professor of drama, theater, and dance at Queens College.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780231123655: Class Act

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0231123655 ISBN 13:  9780231123655
Publisher: Columbia University Press, 2003
Softcover

9780231123648: Class Act

Columb..., 2001
Hardcover