Dance History

Josephine Baker 1906–1975

June 1, 2015 by

The Beyoncé of the Jazz Age

Josephine Baker was a comedic dancer, famous for her beauty and risqué performances. Despite racial prejudices of the 1920s, she transformed herself from small-town dance comedienne to international superstar.
Baker was … Continue reading

Alwin Nikolais 1910–1993

May 1, 2015 by

Multimedia pioneer
Alwin Nikolais is best known for his multimedia approach to dance, using electronic scores, special-effects lighting and elaborate costumes and props in his pieces. But he also paved the way for abstract modern dance. … Continue reading

Jerome Robbins

April 1, 2015 by

Ballet and Broadway genius (1918–1998)
Unlike most great choreographers, who are known as masters in one genre, Jerome Robbins had equal success and influence in two very different worlds: ballet and Broadway. To both he brought … Continue reading

John Bubbles

February 28, 2015 by

The father of rhythm tap
John Bubbles revolutionized tap dance as the first tapper to drop his heels. By using his entire foot (heel and toe), he created rhythmically complex and syncopated footwork while maintaining a … Continue reading

Marie Taglioni

January 29, 2015 by

Marie Taglioni The first Romantic ballerina
 
Marie Taglioni ushered in a new era of ballet—what we now call the Romantic period—with her performance in La Sylphide. With pointe work that was revolutionary for her time, she … Continue reading

Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno

December 29, 2014 by

The creators of butoh
Butoh, or the “dance of utter darkness,” was created in the 1950s by Japanese artists Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno. Marked by white body makeup, shaved heads, distorted body shapes and taboo … Continue reading