By Cholly Atkins, Jacqui Malone
Cholly Atkins's occupation has spanned a unprecedented period of yankee dance. He all started appearing in the course of Prohibition and persisted his apprenticeship in vaudeville, in nightclubs, and within the military in the course of global conflict II. together with his accomplice, Honi Coles, Cholly toured the rustic, acting with such jazz masters as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and count number Basie. As faucet reached a nadir within the fifties, Cholly created the hot specialization of "vocal choreography," instructing rhythm-and-blues singers how one can practice their track by means of including rhythmical dance steps drawn from twentieth-century American dance, from the Charleston to rhythm faucet. For the burgeoning Motown list label, Cholly taught such artists because the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the enticements, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Marvin Gaye to command the degree in ways in which may improve their performances and "sell" their songs. classification Act tells of Cholly's boyhood and coming of age, his access into the dance global of latest York urban, his acting triumphs and private tragedies, and the occupation differences that received him gold files and a Tony for choreographing Black and Blue on Broadway. Chronicling the increase, close to loss of life, and rediscovery of faucet dancing, the booklet is either an enticing biography and a wealthy cultural heritage.
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Extra info for Class act: the jazz life of choreographer Cholly Atkins
Later in my show business ca- The Rhythm Pals 21 reer, I saw some of these same bits at the Apollo, because they were such standard things. But all of the comedians added their own little touches. There were also a lot of good singers, male and female. They would sing these heavy things, like “Old Man River” and “St. ” There were some singers with those big, heavy, good voices, not formally trained, but they had a wonderful quality. Now, I don’t mean to say that you have to be formally trained to be a good singer.
Red was in that group; the Three Rockets; the High Hatters, a popular West Coast trio; Earl Robinson. Oh, we had some great dancers. 34 The Rhythm Pals So we would go in, learn these tap routines from the choreographers, and make the soundtracks. When the movies came out, it looked like the white guys were tapping. Sometimes, the technicians couldn’t quite get the sound and the movements synchronized, but only professionals noticed it. I had a lot of success with that, because eventually, instead of having open auditions, the studios would call me when they wanted tracks made.
Back in ’33, he had just come to Buffalo from Pittsburgh. Red and I put together a little soft-shoe thing to do with him because he always wanted to dance, you know. There was a traveling part where we went downstage and Billy had a way of ﬂirting with the girls at the tables. 26 The Rhythm Pals So, the ﬁrst night, he got to looking at this little girl that was on the ringside. There were about three of them and he was watching this particular one and dancing up front. So Red and I moved back. Then all of a sudden he looked around, and he didn’t see us, and he just went blank!