Iconic Jazz Teacher Luigi Passes Away at the Age of 90

Luigi (with hands on barre) last year

Last night, Eugene Louis Faccuito passed away. You know him as jazz legend Luigi (DT’s 2003 lifetime achievement awardee), creator of the hugely popular warm-up technique that bears his nickname. He had just turned 90. Right-hand man Francis Roach reports that Luigi will be buried in his hometown of Steubenville, OH, and that a memorial celebration will be announced soon.

His story is one of incredible perseverance: Shortly after deciding to pursue a performance career, Luigi was in a horrific car accident which left him partially paralyzed. Despite being told by doctors that he might never walk again, he went on to develop a set of specific exercises designed to lengthen and control his body—and eventually he enjoyed a fruitful career as a dancer and choreographer in Hollywood. Dancers soon began joining in the warm-up exercises Luigi would do during film breaks to stay limber, and his definitive technique and style—full of luscious épaulement and with a focus on proper alignment and organic sequencing—soon became his hallmark. After moving to New York City in 1956, Luigi opened a school, Luigi’s Jazz Centre. The school, under Roach’s supervision, will continue—just as Luigi, whose motto was “Never stop moving,” would’ve wanted.

Luigi’s extensive list of students includes Liza Minnelli, Ann Reinking, Ben Vereen, Twyla Tharp, Susan Stroman, Jacques d’Amboise, Valerie Harper, Robert Alton, Carol Chaney, Alvin Ailey, Donna McKechnie and Goldie Hawn.

 

Photo by Lucas Chilczuk, courtesy of Dance Magazine

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.