Black Ancestors : Henry LeTang

cherryblossom

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Henry LeTang
*Henry LeTang was born on this date in 1915. He is an African-American choreographer.
Born in Harlem, he was the son of Clarence & Marie LeTang, and began his dancing career at age seven. Having fully polished his own technique by age seventeen, he opened his studio in 1937. His first big star student was Betty Hutton. LeTang’s unique style transformed and emphasized the importance of choreography for nightclub performers, thereby establishing him as one of the country's foremost motion stylists. Another beautiful hopeful came to him for direction and made it big, her name was Lena Horne.
From Sep 9, 1943 until Oct 16, 1943, LeTang was an Assistant Choreographer on My Dear Public. From May 18, 1944 until Jun 10, 1944, he directed Tap Routines on Dream With Music. From May 8, 1952 until May 10, 1952, LeTang chorographed Shuffle Along. He also choreographed the movies Tap and the Cotton Club. His Broadway credits include Sophisticated Ladies, which earned him a Tony nomination and the Outer Critic Circle Award for outstanding tap choreography on this show and also Eubie. LeTang won a Tony in 1989 for the Broadway musical Black and Blue.
Other students and proteges include: Gregory Hines, Debbie Allen, Maurice Hines, Bette Midler, Milton Berle, Lee Marvin, Harry Belafonte, Joey Heatherton, Chita Rivera, Lola Falana, George Kirby, Nancy Wilson, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Billie Holiday. His fine work was represented on Broadway by Bubbling Brown Sugar, Guys and Dolls, and My One and Only, and Tap Dance Kid. Bill "Bojangels" Robinson summed up his choreographing talent saying, "That young man's staging is really copasetic."
 

cherryblossom

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Henry LeTang, 91; Tony Award-winning choreographer and tap dance teacher


May 08, 2007|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/may/08/local/me-letang8
Henry LeTang, a tap dance teacher and Tony-winning choreographer who taught many of the biggest names in dance, including Chita Rivera, Gregory Hines and Savion Glover, died April 26. He was 91....
...LeTang took his first tap dance lessons at age 7 in his native New York City and opened his first dance studio at 17. Many of the early performers he coached were nightclub singers, including Billie Holiday and Lena Horne. He also worked with actress Betty Hutton.
"I started teaching one or two people I knew and word got out," LeTang recalled of those years, in a 1981 interview with the New York Times.
... working on Broadway in the early 1940s, where he was the assistant choreographer for "My Dear Public" in 1943 and the director of the tap routines for "Dream With Music" the following year.
His list of gifted students continued to grow. In the early 1950s Gregory Hines, the late tap dance star and his older brother, Maurice, were students.
"Henry LeTang was a great teacher for Gregory and me," Maurice Hines said in a 2006 interview with Dance Teacher magazine. "Henry gave us the love of the dance."
Other performers with whom LeTang worked include Milton Berle, Harry Belafonte, Debbie Allen and Ben Vereen.
He returned to Broadway to choreograph the musical "Eubie" in 1978. The popular revue featured the music of ragtime composer Eubie Blake.
Three years later LeTang choreographed "Sophisticated Ladies," another popular musical revue. Both shows earned him Tony nominations. LeTang became known for his "sleek, show-stopping tap numbers," the New York Times reported in 1981.
He went on to win a Tony in 1989 for "Black and Blue," a song and dance show with music by Duke Ellington and others, sharing the award with three collaborators.
He had several Hollywood successes. LeTang choreographed "The Cotton Club," Francis Ford Coppola's 1984 film with scenes set in the famous Harlem nightclub of the '20s.
 

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