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Bennett, Michael (08 April 1943–02 July 1987), musical theater director and choreographer, was born Michael Bennett Di Figlia in Buffalo, New York, the son of Salvatore Di Figlia, a machinist, and Helen Turnoff, a secretary. Bennett took weekly dance classes, studying ballet, tap, jazz and modern technique. He attended Hutchinson Central Technical High School for Boys, where he studied architectural design, but at seventeen he dropped out of school to go on a year-long European tour in a production of ...

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Durang, John (06 January 1768–29 March 1822), dancer, choreographer, and theatrical entrepreneur, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Jacob Durang, a physician, and Joeann Catharine Arter, who had emigrated from Strasbourg, France, in 1767. Settling first in York, the family moved to Philadelphia in 1778. America’s first native-born theatrical dancer of prominence, Durang was influenced in his youth by Louis Roussell, a French dancer and teacher. In his memoirs he states that he emulated Roussell’s “pigeon wing” and learned the correct way of dancing a hornpipe “in the French stile [ ...

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Nikolais, Alwin (25 November 1910–08 May 1993), choreographer, designer, and composer, was born in Southington, Connecticut, the son of John Nikolais and Martha Heinrich. From an early age he studied music. During his high school years he was an organ accompanist for silent films at the Westport Movie House. In 1929 he graduated from Lewis High School in Southington....

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Wayburn, Ned (30 March 1874–02 September 1942), theatrical director and dance teacher, was born Edward Claudius Wayburn in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Elbert Wayburn, a machinery manufacturer, and Harriet Beech. Educated in Atlanta and Chicago schools, Wayburn worked his way into vaudeville by ushering at an opera house, taking small parts in amateur plays, directing at an acting school, and becoming a specialty dancer....

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Winfield, Hemsley (20 April 1907–15 January 1934), actor and dancer, was born in Yonkers, New York, the son of Osbourne Winfield, a civil engineer, and Jeraldine (maiden name unknown but perhaps Hemsley), an actress and playwright. Educated at public schools, Winfield showed an early interest in theater, perhaps prompted by his mother’s involvement. In 1924 he received his first role in a major production, in ...