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Lythgoe at home in L.A. Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

Nigel Lythgoe makes it clear that he is not a dance teacher. The one time he was invited as a student to teach little kids, he scared the hell out of them. He was impersonating a jack-in-the-box, and when the kids approached, he jumped up and shrieked. "Three of the little girls ran off," says Lythgoe. "Two of them peed themselves, and I was never allowed to go near little kids or teach them again. That was my one experience as a dance teacher. And now they're giving me an award!"

But Lythgoe has done as much as anyone to draw America's consciousness to the art of dance. And that is, in a very pervasive, influential way, teaching.

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