BWW Interviews: Eugene Louis Faccuito aka Luigi, a Winner All His Life
5, 6, 7, 8, From The Heart...
Luigi believes, "To dance most joyfully is to be at one with love." The 2013 Bessie Lifetime Achievement Award recipient espouses a philosophy of simplicity. His humble approach to teaching technique never neglects the heart as the ultimate motivator.
Luigi's track record for his student's attaining heights of recognition in the dance world is a testament to his spirit of unwavering encouragement and personal perseverance. Alvin Ailey and Donna McKechnie are among countless recipients of Luigi's largesse as mentor and motivator.
Adversity is no stranger to Luigi. Recovering from a severe car accident when he was twenty-one years old in the 1940's, in Hollywood, doctors told him he would never walk. His answer, "I don't want to walk, I want to dance." His belief is "Keep doing things right, they'll get better right. Keep doing things wrong, they'll feel right-wrong." Luigi has embraced the struggles of others. He was the first to integrate a South African dance troupe. And his stretching regimen to regain mobility became a staple of core exercises for dance companies all over the world.
With his generosity of spirit, it's no wonder Luigi became fast friends with Gene Kelly. This led to his appearance in over forty films, beginning with An American In Paris. Other MGM musicals in which Luigi inspired and trained others or danced in himself, included: Annie Get Your Gun, Singin' In the Rain and White Christmas. Add Judy Garland, Danny Kaye and John Travolta as among the many wonderful performers who's dance horizons broadened due to the advice and practical lessons from Luigi.
"5, 6, 7, 8," came about from the basic idea of efficiency. Luigi told me he wanted to "Get into it, just start...dance!" His twenty-four arm positions he developed to recover from his injury, based on Japanese Teacher Michio Ito's technique, are practiced by beginner and expert alike. Liza Minnelli personally studied with Luigi a couple of years ago after she broke her leg. Religiously, almost every morning during her recovery, she made the pilgrimage cross town from her West Side abode in Manhattan to his East Side Dance Studio.
Dancing, Teaching, Singing, Acting and Choreography are among Maestro Luigi's areas of expertise. His greatest gift may be couched in a question he asked during our talk. He asked me where I learned to love. Perhaps, this was in response to my enthusiasm, wonder and joy in being in the presence of such a creative and affective man. But I believe, HE learned to love, through always wanting others to feel joyful. He has done this through a life of dance. That is why he is a champion.
Photo Credit: Jessie Black