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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight Dancers
 
  Artistic Dance, including Ballet, has proven to be a haven for glbtq people, who have made significant contributions in almost every area, including choreography, performance, and teaching. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual dancers have also had an impact on popular dance forms from ice dancing to Musical Theater. This spotlight celebrates the lives and careers of more than twenty glbtq dancers.  
 
 
  Alvin Ailey Alvin Ailey (1931-1989) was an African-American dancer and choreographer who celebrated his heritage and translated his pain into art. Though he took great pride in the dance company he founded, homophobia, especially that of his mother, undermined his sense of worth and helped make his personal life a tragedy.  
 
 
  Maud Allan Maud Allan (1873-1956) was a Canadian-born performer who achieved fame as the "Salome Dancer," but is best remembered for a libel suit she brought against a newspaper publisher for alleging that she was a lesbian.  
 
 
  Josephine Baker Josephine Baker (1906-1975) was an entertainer who achieved acclaim as the twentieth century's first international black female sex symbol. She kept her many sexual liasons with women carefully hidden.  
 
 
  Ballet Russes The Ballet Russes (1909-1962) represents not only a crucial turning point in dance history, but as one of the earliest gay-identified multinational enterprises, it is a milestone in gay history as well.  
 
 
  Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is a dance troupe that combines dance, cross-dressing, and comedy to both parody and celebrate classical ballet.  
 
 
  Michael Bennett (1943-1987) began his career as a dancer at the age of 16, and ultimately became a star choreographer and director who won eight Tony Awards and developed a fluid, cinematic style of choreography and staging.  
 
 
  Anita Berber Anita Berber (1899-1928) was an expressionist exotic dancer and actress in German silent movies who epitomized for many the decadence of Weimar-era Berlin. Her lesbian affairs, cocaine addiction, nudity on stage, and macabre dance performances made her notorious and led some art-world sophisticates to consider her vulgar.  
 
 
  Erik Bruhn Erik Bruhn (1928-1986), the premier male dancer of the 1950s, epitomized the ethereally handsome prince of the decade's ballet stage, but was later able to re-make his career by performing vividly realized character parts.  
 
 
  Toller Cranston Toller Cranston (b. 1949) is a Canadian skater and painter who combined artistry and athleticism to help revolutionize figure skating. His skating style was informed by dance--modern dance in particular--even though he had no formal training in that area.  
 
 
  Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) was one of the twentieth-century's most influential dancers and choreographers. Cunningham avoided political statement and self-expression in his work, but his collaborative model may be said to represent a queering of the creative process.  
 
 
  John Curry (1949-1994), a World and Olympic figure skating champion, was one of the first athletes to speak candidly about his sexual orientation while competing. After turning professional, Curry formed his own company. His Ice Dancing show was a Broadway hit that explored the relationship between skating and dance.  
 
 
  Mahesh Dattani Mahesh Dattani (b. 1958) is an Indian playwright, screenwriter, dancer, director, actor, and an important figure in South Asian gay culture by virtue of his recurrent depiction of queer characters. Dattani's entire opus may be seen as a relentless assault on Indian patriarchy.  
 
 
  Rupert Doone (1903-1966), an English dancer, choreographer, producer, and teacher of drama, had a varied and distinguished artistic career.  
 
 
  Isadora Duncan Isadora Duncan (1878-1927) is the mother of modern dance. Free thinking and free spirited, Duncan brought her feminist consciousness to the stage and constantly challenged society's rules in her bohemian private life.  
 
 
  Rudy Galindo Rudy Galindo (b. 1969) is the first openly gay man and the first Mexican-American to win the United States figure skating championship. After turning pro, Galindo has performed in a variety of ice shows. His signature piece, "Village People Medley," is a particular fan favorite.  
 
 
  Sir Robert Helpmann Sir Robert Helpmann (1909-1986) was an actor, dancer, and choreographer who was present at the creation of premier ballet companies in both Great Britain and Australia.  
 
 
  Robert Joffrey (1928-1988) was an American dancer, choreographer, and teacher who promoted gender parity in ballet. The Joffrey Ballet, which he founded, remains one of the premier ballet companies in the United States.  
 
 
  Bill T. Jones Bill T. Jones (b. 1951), a charismatic performer, gifted choreographer, and long-term survivor of AIDS, has created an impressive body of dance that frequently merges the private and the public.  
 
 
  Lindsay Kemp Lindsay Kemp (b. 1940?), a mime artist, renegade, and magnetic stage performer, has long had a cult status in alternative theater. His company's erotically suggestive theatrical experiences blur the line between high and low culture and often assert the importance of Kemp's homosexuality to his performance ethic.  
 
 
  Serge Lifar (1905-1986) used his extraordinary looks and charismatic personality to rise to the ranks of leading international ballet dancers and choreographers of the twentieth century. His naked ambition drove his extraordinarily successful career, but annoyed Sergei Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes, and many others.  
 
 
  Miguel de Molina (1908-1993) reinvented the Spanish flamenco performance, but his open gayness and gender-bending stage persona provoked hostile reactions that plagued his career.  
 
 
  Mark Morris Mark Morris (b. 1956), one of the most respected leaders in the dance world today, began his career as a dancer, but his ambition to choreograph led him to form the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980. His works typically mix elements of Eastern and Western cultures and frequently explore sexual ambiguities.  
 
 
  Vaslav Nijinsky Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950) is one of the greatest dancers and most innovative choreographers in the history of ballet. Nijinsky embodied the sensuality and sexual ambiguity associated with the distinctive new art of the twentieth century.  
 
 
  Rudolf Nureyev Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993), the greatest dancer of his time, gave the world a new and glamorous image of a sexually active gay man.  
 
 
  Brian Orser Brian Orser (b. 1961), an Olympian known for both his athleticism and artistry, led a resurgence of Canada as a force to be reckoned with in men's figure skating. After turning professional, Orser pursued a career in ice shows and as a media commentator.  
 
 
  Jerome Robbins Jerome Robbins (1918-1998) is remembered as a talented and prolific choreographer who choreographed 66 ballets and fifteen Broadway musicals between 1944 and 1997. He began his career as a dancer in the Yiddish Art Theater and then as a performer and choreographer at the Lake Tamiment Resort in the Poconos.  
 
 
  Paul Taylor Paul Taylor (b. 1930) is a dancer and choreographer who has been an important presence in American dance since the 1950s. No other modern dance choreographer is so popular with ballet companies and their audiences: more than fifty ballet troupes have performed his pieces.  
 
 
  Tommy Tune (b. 1939) is the first person to have won Tonys in four different categories, dancer, director, and choreographer. He is known for his choreographic sense of humor and for his celebration of the chorus line.  
 
 
  Rudi van Dantzig (b. 1933) became instantly obsessed with becoming a dancer when he saw Michael Daniels' dance-filled film The Red Shoes (1948) when he was 15. Dantzig is especially noted for edgy elements of homoerotic tension and existential malaise that recurred in his politically-charged work as artistic director and resident choreographer of the Dutch National Ballet from 1971 to 1991.  
 
 
 

 
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