Jazz Dance Legend: Gene Kelly

“You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams. And I know if I can make you smile by jumping over a couple of couches or running through a rainstorm, then I’ll be very glad to be a song and dance man.” – Gene Kelly

 

Gene Kelly

Gene kelly” by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

It’s hard to imagine a man who performed on Broadway and in some of the most iconic movie musicals in history saying he never wanted to be a dancer. But defying normal expectations was just Gene Kelly’s way.

The man who is cherished to this day for his roles in movies such as “Singing in the Rain” and “An American in Paris” not only graced the big screen with his dance talent – he changed the way dance was perceived on film and made his athletic style a staple of American dance.

 

From Baseball to Ballet

Gene Kelly was born in the Highland Park district of Pittsburgh on August 23, 1912. The third of five children, Kelly was a sports fanatic and dreamed of playing shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His mother was determined that her children be educated in the arts, however, so Kelly began taking dance classes at a young age – and proved to be a natural.

Kelly’s mother also prioritized education, so Kelly went on to study economics at Penn State University. Only a year had gone by when the Great Depression hit and Kelly was forced to leave school to earn money. Throughout this time he worked as a bricklayer and soda jerk in addition to dancing in various Pittsburgh clubs and theaters. Kelly ultimately completed his economics degree at the University of Pittsburgh in 1933 and headed for law school, but it didn’t take long before he realized law wasn’t for him. Thankfully for the rest of us, he decided to pursue his dance career instead.

Kelly immersed himself in teaching at his family’s dance school, which became known as the Gene Kelly School of Dance. He did this all while performing, directing, and choreographing for shows throughout Pittsburgh. But by 1938, Kelly was on the move again. Feeling that he’d done all he could for his career in the teaching department, Kelly made his way to Broadway. Unsurprisingly, he was met with success soon after.

 

Broadway and Beyond

Starting with small roles in “Leave it to Me!” And “One for the Money,” Kelly’s Broadway career escalated after Hollywood executive Louis B. Mayer saw him in the lead role of “Pal Joey” and offered him a movie contract with MGM. Kelly made his film debut in 1942 in “Me and My Gal,” which costarred Judy Garland.

Kelly’s movie career truly took off after his groundbreaking “Alter Ego” performance in Columbia Pictures’ “Cover Girl” (1944), in which he performed with himself thanks to the double exposure of the film. It was not only the first time such a feat had ever been done, but it was also the first time a dance number actually moved the movie’s plot along instead of merely being tossed into the picture. It was also the last time MGM lent Kelly to any other studio.

MGM cast Kelly in a variety of musicals after, one of the most memorable being “Anchors Aweigh.” World War II put Kelly’s career on pause as he enlisted in the Navy from 1944 – 1946, but he was back on the dance floor soon enough upon his return.

From showing off his jazz skills in “On the Town” (1949) to choreographing a lengthy ballet in “An American in Paris” (1951) to tapping through puddles in “Singing in the Rain” (1952), Kelly displayed versatility and athleticism in all the movies he went on to make. The man of many talents contributed as much behind the camera as he did in front of it, choreographing, writing, producing and directing a number of his films. Not only did an array of awards follow his path, but he also made groundbreaking achievements in that he made dance a more popular skill, particularly for men, and forever changed the Hollywood musical with his perspective and style.

 

By film trailer screenshot (MGM) (An American in Paris trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By film trailer screenshot (MGM) (An American in Paris trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Show Must Go On

Although his career slowed down in the 1960s as the popularity of movie musicals began to fade, Kelly continued performing in TV programs such as the short lived “Going My Way” (1962 – 1963, based on the 1944 Bing Crosby movie) and the variety show “The Funny Side” (1971). He also directed, produced and starred in the TV movie “Jack and the Beanstalk” (1967), which won him an Emmy Award, and hosted the 1970s documentary “That’s Entertainment!” He made his final movie appearance in 1980 in “Xanadu” with Olivia Netwon-John. Besides occasional guest appearances on shows such as “The Muppet Show” and “The Love Boat,” Kelly mostly retired from performing in the 1980s.

Kelly died at his home in Beverly Hills, California on February 2, 1996 after a series of strokes. He will forever be remembered as one of America’s most beloved dancers whose style and vision made a lasting impacting on movies, musicals and dance lovers everywhere.

Mitzi Gaynor, Taina Elg, Kay Kendall & Gene Kelly in Les Girls - publicity still (cropped)

Mitzi Gaynor, Taina Elg, Kay Kendall & Gene Kelly in Les Girls – publicity still (cropped)

 

Fun Facts:

  • To fix dance’s two-dimensional appearance on film, Kelly’s choreography always had dancers moving toward the camera. The dances also weren’t as long as usually done on stage and were aided by light and color to create the feeling of a third dimension.
  • Kelly always made sure his dancer’s full body was filmed and that the film was cut on a dancer’s turn so the transition would be less obvious.
  • He had a 103 degree fever when he filmed his famous “Singing in the Rain” scene. Kelly dubbed the taps later, as well as the taps of his co-star, Debbie Reynolds.
  • In “Anchors Aweigh,” Kelly danced a duet with Jerry the Mouse (from the cartoon “Tom and Jerry”), who required 24 drawings per second of the dance to come to life. It was the first time anyone danced with an animated character. Kelly’s wife said he often referred to Jerry as his favorite dance partner “because he showed up on time and worked his little tail off.”
  • Kelly took his inspiration not from other forms of dance, but from sports – particularly hockey, his favorite.
  • “On the Town” was the first musical to be shot outside a studio.
  • Both the dancing and the camera movements in “Cover Girl” and “Anchors Aweigh” were synchronized with the beat of the music.

 

For more fun facts about Gene Kelly, check out this article.

 

Gene Kelly: The Legacy (An Evening With Patricia Ward Kelly)

Biographer and film historian, Patricia Ward Kelly takes audiences behind the scenes and shares an intimate story of her late husband Gene Kelly, the man who helped create some of the most memorable scenes in film history. This unique, LIVE performance—praised as “a real treat” by Variety—combines rare and familiar film clips, never released audio recordings, memorabilia, and personal insights culled from hours of interviews with her husband. Mrs. Kelly, whose presentation has been described as “mesmerizing,” reveals a very personal side of this American legend and his perspective on the innovative work for which he wished to be remembered.

Gene Kelly: The Legacy “An Evening With Patricia Ward Kelly” is currently touring. Learn more about upcoming shows on the Facebook page or at genekelly.com.

 

Gene Kelly Videos

Of course, there’s plenty of great footage of Gene Kelly to be discovered via YouTube (fleeting though it may be due to copyright infringement). Here he is talking about Singing in the Rain, directing, and movie-making:

 

Watch Gene in a duet with himself in Cover Girl:

 

Can’t get enough of Gene Kelly? Follow his fan pages on social media:

 

Jazz Dance Legend: Matt Mattox

“I went home, I sat down, and I drew one line on a blank piece of paper. The body is a straight line and you can do everything with it. Then, there was a Life magazine photographer who was experimenting in the early 1950s by shooting a man holding two lamps, which he moved against a black background. When the photo was developed, all you saw were these curving lines of light. And I thought, ‘That’s the way the body should move.’ ” – Matt Mattox, on the beginnings of his dance style

 

Think of classic movie musicals, and what comes to mind? Perhaps Gene Kelly leaping onto a lamppost in his iconic “Singing in the Rain” scene, or Fred Astaire tapping in perfect time with Ginger Rogers. But there is one dancer to grace the stage and screen of the time that must not be overlooked – one whose colleague Jacques D’Amboise described as “one of the greatest male dancers that ever was on a performing stage” and “up there on Mt. Everest with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.” That talented man is Matt Mattox.

Photo courtesy Off Jazz Dance Centre

Photo courtesy Off Jazz Dance

Although his interviews were rare and he spent more than 30 of his later years in France, Mattox (1921 – 2013) left an everlasting mark on jazz in both the US and Europe. He is the man who created much of the vocabulary and customs that formed jazz dance into a dance style all it’s own. In the process, he created a jazz technique still found in classes today.

First Steps

Long before Mattox became an iconic dance figure, however, he lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Born Harold Henry Mattox in 1921, his dance training didn’t begin until his family moved from Oklahoma to Los Angeles when he was about 11 years old. There, Mattox began taking ballet, tap and ballroom dance. He later credited his dance training to tapper Willie Covan, vaudevillian Teddy Kerr and Louie de Prawn, noting how tap made a particular impact on his technique. Jack Cole also become his mentor in later years, influencing his focus on jazz.

His dance instruction was put on hold during his time as a fighter pilot with the Army Air Forces in World War II. However, that leave of absence from dance did anything but halt his career. On the contrary, some of his most memorable achievements took place after his return.

Broadway and Beyond

Mattox’s ballet background put him in high demand for both stage and screen. In the Hollywood realm, Mattox held nearly 20 movie roles and made a lasting impression as frontiersman Caleb Pontipee in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954). One scene in particular, the barn raising dance, became one of Mattox’s most memorable feats among moviegoers. In it, Mattox performs an impressive series of jumps over a sawhorse and pirouettes on a plank, among other stunts in the midst of technical choreography. Mattox’s list of film credits also includes “Yolanda and the Thief” (1945) with Fred Astaire, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”(1953) with Marilyn Monroe and “The Band Wagon” (1953) with Cyd Charisse.

His mentor, Jack Cole, is credited with setting Mattox’s focus on jazz after hiring him as a dancer in “Magdalena” on Broadway. Mattox also played Harry Beaton in the the revival of “Brigadoon” (1957) and originated the part of the jester in “Once Upon a Mattress” (1959), among other Broadway roles. He also choreographed for the Broadway musical “Jennie” (opening 1963), in addition to choreographic work for the Metropolitan Opera’s “Aida” (1959), TV’s “The Bell Telephone Hour” (for which he was also a performer) and numerous ballets.

 

One of a Kind

Photo courtesy Off Jazz Dance Centre

Photo courtesy Off Jazz Dance

Elaborating on Cole’s work over time, Mattox is known for developing jazz dance into a genre separate from the high-energy Broadway hoofing style it was previously associated with, making it appropriate for both theater and concert dance. Rather than use the term “jazz,” however, Mattox preferred to call his technique “freestyle,” and pulled from ballet, flamenco, tap, Spanish dancing and his own creations when teaching.

From the mid-1950s on, Mattox taught his art to countless students. He began in New York and later went to London, where he created his own company, JazzArt, and taught for 5 years at the London’s Dance Centre. He ultimately settled in the French commune of Roussillon in the 1980s with his wife, Martine Limeul Mattox, whom he met in London in the mid-1970s. Both dancers kept busy schedules teaching at Ecole Jazz Art Matt Mattox. They also directed what they called “stages,”or part demonstrations, part master classes, all throughout Europe.

He taught until he was nearly 90 years old. Mattox died in France in 2013, at the age of 91. While his contribution to dance has made a permanent impact, his passing was nevertheless a major loss to the dance world. I doubt, however, that the teacher and performer who always pushed for perfection would want dancers to stand still in mourning. As he once told a class, emphasizing that they should look like they’re enjoying themselves while dancing: “If you’re going to continue to progress….then for god sakes, be alive! And be beautiful.”

Fun Facts

  • Mattox choreographed nearly 30 ballets in the course of 30 years.
  • Mattox had some very memorable students throughout his time as an instructor. He told Dance Magazine in 2003 about meeting one particular student: “She was wearing a long, white shirt and jeans and had hair down to here. She asked me to teach her to dance for a song she was going to audition with. So, first I asked her to sing.” That student was Barbra Streisand. “She was going into I Can Get It for You Wholesale. It made her a star. If only I had known.”

Take a peak into a dance class with Matt Mattox…

For more on Matt Mattox and his style, read the Matt Mattox Book of Jazz Dance by Elisabeth Frich.

Also visit the offjazz.com tribute to Matt Mattox.

See more of our Jazz Dance Legends series HERE.

 

Sources: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Dance Magazine, IMDB, The Christian Science Monitor 

Misty Copeland and Lauren Anderson Share The Stage In Houston

Conversation with Misty Copeland in Houston

On Monday, July 27th, Misty Copeland visited Houston for what seemed like the dance event of the year. The event, titled A Conversation with Misty Copeland, was hosted by Houston City councilmember, Dwight Boykins, moderated by ABC 13 anchor, Melanie Lawson, and was free and open to the public. Misty Copeland was joined on stage by Houston Ballet’s Lauren Anderson.

Twenty-five years ago, as the first African-American to be promoted to principal dancer at Houston Ballet, Anderson, like Copeland, became one of the few African-American ballerinas in the world to reach this level in a major ballet company.  Retired from the stage since 2006, Anderson is an outreach associate for Houston Ballet’s educational program, a teacher, and an in-demand speaker throughout the U.S. She is a ballet celebrity in her own right, especially here in Houston.

The room was packed with buzzing people – those who knew everything and those who knew very little about Misty Copeland. Fathers brought their daughters, directors of local dance studios brought tiny little ballerinas in bright yellow and pink leotards and tutus. There were aspiring and professional dancers, dance patrons, and educators – all sitting patiently, waiting for Copeland to be introduced. When she was, she was greeted by applause comparable to your favorite pop star.

Melanie Lawson did a great job keeping the energy level high and Copeland was generous and giving with her presence, while Anderson was hilariously to the point.

Most of the discussion centered on the roads both of these amazingly talented women took to arrive at the coveted role of principal ballet dancer, each sharing how issues of race brought challenges along the way. Although the day was all about Copeland, she gracefully paid homage to Anderson and mentor, Raven Wilkinson, a former Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo dancer who faced intense racism while traveling on the road with that company during the 1950s.

Anderson made the strongest point of the evening when she noted that after attending Copeland’s debut performance as the Swan Queen in American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake, she noticed there were other dancers of color in the corps and, though she did not intend to diminish Copeland’s great accomplishment, she wondered, “why the media decides that only one of us can do it at one time?”

Throughout the event, ushers collected audience questions that were randomly selected and read aloud by Melanie Lawson. Most of the questions were from parents seeking advice for their daughters showing interest in pursuing ballet. Both Ms. Anderson and Misty stressed the importance of taking class and listening to your teachers.

A beautiful moment for me was when Ms. Anderson shared with the audience the advice she gave Misty after the aforementioned Swan Queen performance and before her promotion. She said she gave Copeland time to “come down,” then called her on the phone and said, “You, Misty Copeland, are enough, and by the time you realize that it doesn’t take all that fight, it’s time to retire.”

The advice is poignant, as many of us dancers struggle with discovering who we are and what we may believe in while we’re focusing on someone else’s “steps,” someone else’s vision, someone else’s dream.

Over the course of watching Misty Copeland pursue such an extraordinary dream, I have always been curious to know if she’s ever regretted taking on racial issues with respect to her career but it was clear, after this event, that she does not regret it, but welcomes the responsibility.

I applaud Ms. Copeland for her courage and strength, and I look forward to watching her star continue to rise. She is poised, her game face is on, and she is ready to take on everything coming her way.

 

 

Courtney D. Jones

Courtney D. Jones  |  Photo by Travis Kelley

Named one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch in 2012, professional dancer, guest teacher and actress Courtney D. Jones is a proud graduate of SUNY Purchase with a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Psychology. A native of Houston, she began her professional career in Miami, FL and has worked with the Kevin Wynn Collection and with Jennifer Muller/The Works, where she taught and toured internationally for four seasons. She joined the cast of Show Boat in 2008 and went on to join Broadway’s First National Tour of WICKED in 2009. After returning to Houston, Ms. Jones spent four seasons with Hope Stone Dance Company where she was the Assistant Director of Hope Stone Dance II. As adjunct faculty, she taught modern dance at University of Houston, has been a guest teacher at numerous universities, workshops and intensives including Bates Dance Festival and the Joffrey Ballet School Summer Intensive (NYC), and has appeared in many productions at Houston’s Stages Repertory Theatre. Ms. Jones is the Full Time Dance Teacher at Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, teaching modern dance, musical theatre dance, composition and repertory and is the Co-Founder of Houston Dance Collective, providing professional, open dance classes to the Houston dance community.

 

 

Copeland’s visit to Houston was indeed big news. Dance Advantage wishes to thank Courtney Jones for sharing her experience of this event with our readers.

You can see video of A Conversation with Misty Copeland in its entirety here.

Houston’s Style Magazine interviews Copeland and Anderson below.

Jazz Dance Legend: Giordano

“On one hand, jazz dance is truly a discipline requiring the same fierce dedication one expects in ballet. But jazz dance emancipates the soul. It frees the spirit.” – Gus Giordano

Gus GiordanoJazz dance legend August “Gus” Giordano (1923 – 2008) was many things. He was not, however, one to live life sitting still. The man remembered as the “Godfather of American Jazz Dancing” could check numerous titles off his list of accomplishments, including dancer, choreographer, master teacher, company founder, author and, ultimately, the person who led jazz to become a recognized and respected art form.

Although a St. Louis native, Giordano is actually said to have had his first exposure to dance in New Orleans as a child. Watching his cousin dance to folk music during this trip not only intrigued him about dance – it ended up influencing the path of his entire life.

Back in St. Louis, Giordano began taking dance classes, including ballet and modern, under the instruction of Minette Buchmann. Jazz, however, did not exist as an art to be studied at the time and was limited to show business outlets such as vaudeville and movies.

A young Gus GiordanoDance filled his life from that point on and didn’t even miss a beat during his time as a Marine in World War II, when he was assigned to a group that performed shows at military bases around the United States. Giordano later minored in dance at the University of Missouri, where he met his wife, supporter and business partner, Peg.

The couple moved to New York City, where Gus continued to train (Hanya Holm, Alwin Nikolais, and Oreste Segerifsky were some of his noted teachers) and audition, and Peg worked as a secretary to support them. After a Broadway career that included “Paint Your Wagon” and “On the Town,” Giordano and his wife moved to Chicago. It was in nearby Evanston that the Gus Giordano Dance School (1953) and Gus Giordano Dance Chicago (1962) were born, as well as the Giordanos’ four children.

Another of Giordano’s published books: Jazz Dance Class, Beginning Thru Advanced

Giordano created the Gus Giordano Jazz Technique as well as choreography for everything from TV to stage to film. In addition to impacting countless dancers in his classes and company, Giordano further influenced jazz dance’s reputation with his founding of the first Jazz Dance World Congress in 1990. This gathering, which includes numerous jazz master teachers and companies, has since been held in numerous US cities and countries including Costa Rica, Germany, Japan and Mexico. Giordano also left a lasting impact by publishing several books. One such title, “Anthology of American Jazz Dance,” (1976) is credited as being the first of its kind.

In 1984 Giordano received the Dance Educators of America Award for his “outstanding contribution to the world of jazz dance.” A recipient of many distinguished honors, he received the Third Annual Katherine Dunham Award for “excellence and great contributions to the Arts” in 1999 and served as National Spokesperson for National Dance Week in 1997.

Giordano died in 2008 at the age of 84. His contribution to the dance world, however, is never to be forgotten.

Gus and daughter Amy Giordano

Today, Giordano’s daughter, Amy, continues her parents legacy and has made her father’s dream come true by moving Gus Giordano Dance School to the city of Chicago. The school provides the highest quality dance performance and dance instruction in all dance styles with an emphasis on GUS GIORDANO JAZZ technique.

Giordano Dance Chicago in Feelin' Good

By Giordano Dance Chicago in Feelin’ Good Sweet, choreographed by Ray Leeper. Photo by Gorman Cook Photography. (Image donated by Giordano Dance Chicago) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Gus Giordano Dance is comprised of professional dancers, as well as pre-professional and youth company members. Gus Giordano Dance performs in the Chicagoland area and throughout the U.S. showcasing their love of Jazz dance and more.

Fun Facts:

  • April 25 is “Gus Giordano Day,” enacted by Governor James Thompson in 1985 for Giordano’s cultural contribution in Illinois. Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley also made October 13 “Gus Giordano Day” in Chicago.
  • Giordano Dance Chicago is said to be the first dance company to focus entirely on jazz dance.
  • Giordano’s nationally acclaimed 1980 television production, The Rehearsal, received an Emmy Award, the PBS Award, and the Ohio State Award.
  • The Goodman Theatre’s holiday presentation, A Christmas Carol was choreographed by Giordano and he was one of six choreographers for the 1988 Chicago revival of the Broadway musical Hair.

 

 

 

 

Follow Giordano Dance Chicago

You can find information on the Gus Giordano Dance School and its social media accounts, including their Facebook page, on their website.

 

Photos of Gus Giordano courtesy Amy Giordano and Gus Giordano Dance School.

Sources: NY Times, Giordano Dance Chicago, Gus Giordano Dance School, Cybertiger Studios, Encyclopedia Britannica

Jazz Dance Legend: Frank Hatchett

“At the core of jazz dance is the interpretation of the music. It is my obligation to the musician to express what he feels when he’s playing. The interpretation all boils down to the relationship between the movement and the music.” – Frank Hatchett, in Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance

Photo by Michael S. Gordon courtesy of The Republican –– 8/13/1990-Frank Hatchett shows how it is done in one of his dance clases on Broadway in New York City.

Photo by Michael S. Gordon courtesy of The Republican –– 8/13/1990-Frank Hatchett shows how it is done in one of his dance clases on Broadway in New York City.

To say that Frank Hatchett was a multi-talented dancer would be an understatement. The jazz dance legend and master teacher, who passed away December 2013, left a lasting impact on the dance world as the creator of VOP jazz and the studio that eventually became Broadway Dance Center.

But Hatchett didn’t become a famous dance icon over night. Long before entering the big-time dance scene of New York City or working alongside celebrities, Hatchett began his career the way a majority of dancers do – as a young student at a local dance studio.

Early Dance Training

Hatchett first experienced Mary Morlock’s studio in East Hartford, Conncecticut because one of his chores was to take his sister to dance class. Though he pretended to be reading comic books, he paid more attention to the class than anyone realized. He finally stood up to correct the girls practicing one day when Mary was late to class due to a snowstorm. Mary began encouraging Hatchett to participate in class, and even gave him private lessons at her home until he felt comfortable taking classes at her studio.

Even as a teenager, Hatchett’s dance teaching talents were apparent, and he started teaching his friends in his grandmother’s basement. Later in his teens, he took classes from Sevilla Forte (Katherine Dunham’s protege) at Phillips and Forte School of Dance in New York City. He later credited Forte as one of his best teachers. Hatchett went on to study dance at the University of Connecticut, but after his first year he left for Philadelphia to study under Eleanor Harris.

From there he booked a highly popular show called “Smart Affairs” that performed in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. He eventually left the show, however, to return to college and finish his degree. After graduation, he opened a dance studio in Springfield, Massachusetts. Then, when Dunbar Community Center in Springfield offered him a teaching position, he expanded their dance program into what became the widely successful Frank Hatchett Center for the Performing Arts. Once the school was strongly established, he toured the US and Europe with the Frank Hatchett Trio (along with Wyetta Turner and Coco Dushon), began choreographing professionally and toured with various national dance conventions.

Broadway Dance Center Beginnings

Hatchett moved to New York in the 1980s, teaching at various dance studios. Sue Samuels welcomed Hatchett to work with her and JoJo Smith at JoJo’s Dance Factory, and in 1982, Hatchett and Maurice Hines renamed the studio Hines and Hatchett. Later when Hatchett left, Frank and Richard Ellner turned the studio into what today is Broadway Dance Center. Throughout his long teaching career, everyone from beginners to professionals, children to famous entertainers studied under Hatchett and learned the art of VOP jazz. Olivia Newton-John, Brooke Shields and Naomi Campbell are just a few of the stars Hatchett taught, in addition to a long list of other Broadway and television actors.

VOP Jazz Style

So what exactly is VOP jazz, and what does it stand for?

The answer: nothing. It’s not an acronym. Rather, it is an exclamation Hatchett began using early on in his teaching career to encourage students to accent or stylize a step. As Hatchett’s style developed over time, “VOP” eventually became the name of Hatchett’s style of jazz.


In his style and teaching, Hatchett stressed the need to not only have strong technique, but to truly feel the music and use that emotion to personalize and enhance their movement. His style was influenced by his teachers, martial arts and a wide variety of dance styles, including African, East Indian, Caribbean and hip hop. He was also largely inspired by the overall rhythm of life.

Dancer, teacher, choreographer, mentor – Frank Hatchett filled many roles throughout his life and had a major impact on countless people as a result. As Steve Boyd, a dance teacher and choreographer, put it, “Frank sees inside people and inspires them to bring out their potential. Frank teaches more than dance; he teaches about life.”

For more information on Frank Hatchett and VOP jazz, read Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance.

Fun Facts:

  • Hatchett was a mentor for many of his students. His role as a father figure led to being nicknamed “Papa Frank.”
  • ABC’s “Good Morning America” labeled Hatchett as “The Doctor of Jazz.”

You can also learn a classic VOP step here.

 

Sources: Hatchett, Frank, and Nancy Myers Gitlin. Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2000. Print.