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Busby Berkley (1895–1976) was one of greatest choreographers of the early American movie musical. While working in Hollywood, he convinced Samuel Goldwyn to use camera close-ups on female chorus line dancers and overhead shots of dancers to create a kaleidoscope effect in his movies. One of his greatest movie successes was 42nd Street (1933).
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Fred Astaire (1899–1987) was one of the greatest dancers ever seen on film. He insisted that he be photographed full-figure so the audience could see his entire body in the scene. One of his most innovative routines in the movie Royal Wedding involved a camera that rotated 360 degrees so that it appeared as if Astaire was dancing on the walls and ceiling. His grace, elegance, and style made his dancing effortless. He was an accomplished tap dancer as well as a ballroom dancer. His most famous dancing partner was Ginger Rogers.
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Gene Kelly (1912–1996) was known for his energetic and athletic style of dancing. He was a major force during the 1940s and 50s. He is most well known for his performance in Singing in the Rain (1952) as well as being codirector, lead star, and choreographer of that movie. Kelly also was the first to use an animated character as a dancing partner on the screen.
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Jerome Robbins (1918–1998) choreographed many musicals during the 1940s and 50s. His most well-known musicals included The King and I (1951) and his most notable work, West Side Story (1957). His innovative choreography, along with composer Leonard Bernstein, created a contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet as seen through the gangs of New York City.
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Bob Fosse (1927–1987) was a successful Broadway choreographer who developed his own signature style through the use of small body isolations while moving the torso in an undulating manner. His often quirky movement was accentuated by the use of turned-in leg positions and sometimes employed the use of a hat. He choreographed such musicals as Damn Yankees (1958), Sweet Charity (1969), Pippin (1972), and Cabaret (1972). The musical Chicago, which was choreographed in 1975, was not a hit when it was first presented. However, it’s revival in the 1990s and 2000s has been tremendously successful. One of his Broadway reviews, Dancin’ (1978), solidified Fosse’s style as an innovative jazz technique.
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Michael Bennett’s (1943–1987) most successful musical was A Chorus Line, which opened on Broadway in 1975 and closed in 1990 after presenting 6,137 performances.