Dance Masters: Jack Cole

Mar 9, 2016

Jack Cole, choreographerThis month’s featured Master Choreographer is Jack Cole, an American dancer, choreographer, and theatre director known as “The Father of Theatrical Jazz Dance.”

When I was a young dancer my teacher gave me Jack Cole to research and do an in-class presentation on. At that time information wasn’t as easily accessible as it is now. I can remember going to the library and opening up books on Jack Cole filled with beautiful photographs. Movie stills of Rita Hayworth performing  the famous “Put The Blame On Mame” number from Glida  and Marilyn Monroe in her signature number “Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend”.  I loved these numbers and these women. There was a strength and beauty they possessed in their movement and beingness that captivated me. To my surprise, Jack Cole was the man behind the scenes for these productions. I read on, inspired, and learned how he worked with these women and hand crafted their numbers specifically for them. He worked with their natural body movements and mannerisms to create numbers that enhanced what he saw as unique about each woman.

That was the spark that stirred my fires! The thought that I could embrace the way I wanted to move my body naturally and could create art like that was so exciting! That was revolutionary and freeing to me, for my romance with dance had become weary and uninspired. I had become a dance robot trying to fit into and fulfill somebody else’s expectation of perfection. It reaffirmed my own knowingness I had as a little girl to move my body and to dance without expectation or perfection. Just “TO BE.” When I was little I would express through movement all that I felt and imagined as my mother, more than willingly, would keep replaying the music on the stereo till I was all danced out or it was dinner time. Whatever came first. In later years that same knowingness would transition me out of Ballet class and into every other style of dance I could get into to satisfy this never ending curiosity of how I could move my body and feel the music.

Somewhere along the way I stopped listening to that knowingness. Was it because someone disapproved or that I felt my mother trying to live through me and took on her expectations? At this point I don’t really care. I am thankful for the inspiration I got from watching and studying Jack’s work. I am so happy to be continuing my life in dance with my curiosity and knowingness back intact and helping others embrace their own expression (uniqueness) and love of dance!

I hope you enjoy and find some inspiration in this wonderful video about Jack Cole!


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