BWW DANCE REVIEW: LEGACY 36 CELEBRATES THE STARS with Maurice Hines, Sandy Duncan & More
Former Rockette Mary Six Rupert hosted, directed and choreographed LEGACY 36 CELEBRATES THE STARS at Columbia University's Miller Theater in New York on Saturday, June 3, 2017. The event honored The Rockettes, as well as Violet Holmes Treimanis, who was director / choreographer for The Rockettes from 1972-1993.
Now 90 years old, Holmes was unable to attend, but Rupert read part of a statement from the honoree, who applauded The Rockettes for their unique precision dance style - a type of dance that's both rare and difficult. When Holmes was a member of the line herself before taking on the director/choreographer position, she performed seven days a week and virtually lived at Radio City Music Hall.
Former dancer Rosie Novellino-Mearns took to the podium and talked about the Radio City Music Hall Ballet Company, which performed every day for 40 years from 1932 to 1972. Novellino-Mearns also led the movement to prevent Radio City from being torn down in 1978, later writing about her experience in the book Saving Radio City Music Hall: A Dancer's True Story.
Sandy Duncan and her husband, Don Correia told us about the grueling schedule they maintained in 1983 when working in the summer show "5,6,7,8, Dance" with The Rockettes - a schedule that the dance line endured on a regular basis.
Maurice Hines, brother and dance partner of Gregory Hines, recalled his joyful experiences as a choreographer for The Rockettes. We were also told that Hines' celebrated Off-Broadway show TAPPIN' THRU LIFE is headed to Broadway. I was disappointed, however, that he didn't perform.
The performance jobs were primarily filled by the Legacy Dancers, a line of former Rockettes varying in age, and Ms. Rupert herself, along with her partner Tomlee L. Abraham. Numbers included a can can piece in tribute to Chita Rivera and "I Go To Rio" in tribute to Peter Allen.
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" performed by former Rockette twins Katherine Corp and Kimberly Corp was especially impressive. It was a piece like the Radio City Music Hall Ballet Company performed in its heyday with the dancers going back and forth between ballet and tap. They wore pointe shoes with heels and taps; there were even heels on the toes, which can make the shoes quite slippery.
The two highlights, however, consisted of the piece with the simplest choreography of the evening and the piece with the most difficult choreography. In the former, Rupert appeared on stage with her brother Griff Braun and his son Henry, who couldn't be more than three years old. The elder dancers kept it simple for the little one, who received the loudest cheers from the audience.
The latter piece, performed to "I Won't Dance," gave us the best tap choreography of the night. It was danced by Brittany Cattaruzza and Tommy Joscelyn, who are cast members in the national tour of 42ND STREET.
Legacy 36, LLC is a company founded by Rupert to celebrate precision dance. Rupert currently serves as a professor of tap and jazz at Wagner College on Staten Island.
Pictured: Katherine Corp and Kimberly Corp. Photo by Joe Henson.