VIDEO: On This Day, July 2- Remembering Michael Bennett
On this day, we celebrate the life and legacy of legendary Broadway choreographer and director, Michael Bennett, who passed away from complications from AIDS on this day in 1987.
Michael Bennett (1943-1987) was born Michael Bennett DiFiglia in Buffalo. He studied dance and choreography in his teens and staged a number of shows in his local high school before dropping out to accept the role of Baby John in the U.S. and European tours of West Side Story. His career as a Broadway dancer began in the 1961 Comden/Green/Styne Subways Are For Sleeping, followed by Here's Love and Bajour.
Bennett made his choreographic debut with the 1966 A Joyful Noise, which lasted only 12 performances, followed by Henry, Sweet Henry, based on "The World of Henry Orient". Success finally arrived in 1968 when Bennett choreographed Promises, Promises, a show that ran for 1,281 performances. Over the next few years his credits included Twigs, Coco, and the two Sondheim productions, Company and Follies.
Bennett's next project was as director and choreographer of A Chorus Line, which opened off-Broadway in 1976, eventually winning nine Tony Awards and the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Next was the financially unsuccessful but much admired Ballroom, and 1981 the hit Dreamgirls. Bennett collaborated on most projects with his lifelong friend and co-choreographer/producer Bob Avian.