Co-produced by Annette Macdonald with Timeline Films
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Jack Cole (1911-1974) was one of the most important and influential choreographers in the world for his work on Broadway, in Hollywood films and in nightclubs. He is the father of American jazz dance, and has been recently named as one of “The 100 Most Irreplaceable Treasures in American Dance History” by the Dance Heritage Coalition. His greatest contribution was changing the face of dance by inventing a new vocabulary of movement—a merging of ballet, modern, East Indian, Afro-Cuban, and African-American dance and setting this to contemporary jazz music.
Anna Kisselgoff wrote his obituary in the N.Y. Times in 1974: “on the Columbia Pictures lot in the 1940’s he trained an entire generation of dancers in a jazz-influenced style that came to represent American show dancing throughout the world and that was widely copied on television.” On that lot he trained Gwen Verdon, Carol Haney, Matt Mattox, George and Ethel Martin, and others. In films Cole created the sensual, sexy screen images of major female movie star divas such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Betty Grable. His choreography was a vernacular style that involved considerable classical training and exceptional musicality which prepared the body for any kind of movement. Thus he created an entirely personal mode of jazz dance which still prevails today as the dominant look and basis for jazz dance technique. Kisselgoff (1974) quotes Gwen Verdon:
“Jack influenced all the choreographers in the theater from Jerome Robbins, Michael Kidd, Bob Fosse down to Michael Bennett and Ron Field today.” His influence still exists today in the work of Robb Marshall, Kathleen Marshall, Susan Stroman, and others. Jack built a significant bridge between serious concert dance and commercial dance, a bridge that did not exist before his time.
A co-production of Annette Macdonald with the Culver City based company Timeline Films. In the late 30’s, Jack Cole changed the face of dance in musical theatre. He is the genius behind the sultry presence of Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Betty Grable. Jerome Robbins (Vanity Fair, December 1984) wrote that “Jack Cole’s contributions were so far-reaching that without him present day theatrical dancing would not be the same. He was outrageous, stunningly so. Everyone teaching jazz dance today teaches much of what Cole founded and codified.”