In Memoriam: Tony Stevens

Broadway luminary Tony Stevens died this July from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 63.

Stevens was one of the last “gypsies” to have worked with Broadway legends Michael Bennett, Ron Field, Gower Champion, Bob Fosse and Peter Gennaro. He assisted Fosse during the creation of Chicago and re-created Fosse’s choreography for Chita Rivera’s show Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life. He was also part of the creation of A Chorus Line, helping to organize the taped workshops on which the show was based. Stevens performed in nine Broadway productions, including Hello Dolly, On the Town and The Boy Friend, and he directed and choreographed national tours of Dreamgirls and Jesus Christ Superstar. He was a frequent panel discussion member for Dancers Over 40 events and a guest faculty member of Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center, both in New York City.

Photo: Tony Stevens posed for Dance Teacher in January 2010 (by Ramon Estevanell)

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"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

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Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

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Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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