BWW Interview: The Amazing Anita Mann Talks Artistry, Accomplishments, and Being Honored By Luminario Ballet at Beverly Hills Women's Club
I just had the best chat with Anita Mann.
If there ever was a Wonder Woman, she is that! Beauty, Brains, Talent, Boundless Energy and Enthusiasm for Life and a non-stop yearning to elevate Dancers and the Dance World to greater heights and recognition.
The Director, Producer, Choreographer, Dancer, Actress, Wife (of 20 years) Mom, Grandmother, Philanthropist, Mentor, Teacher, Humanitarian, whom I have admired for many decades is an icon in the Entertainment Industry; specifically, Dance, which she has devoted her life to. In fact, she has worked with an array of Icons herself, and will be honored this coming Saturday, November 16th, 2019 by The Luminario Ballet Company, for her Lifetime Achievement and Influence in Choreography, at their 2019 Gala Fundraiser "Gala Bacchanal" at the Beverly Hills Women's Club.
It is one of many recognitions for her dedication and longevity in a very tough and competitive business, and she is very honored to be accepting this bestowal from the Artistic Director of Luminario Ballet, Judith FLEX Helle, whom, many moons ago was hired in Las Vegas by Anita, on her first professional dancing job in the U.S. after dancing in Europe for 6 years, for a Las Vegas show Anita was doing at that time. Judith, like most dancers, never forgot being hired for her first U.S. gig, and, given Anita's fervor for Luminario and it's repertoire, it is befitting that she be given this respect and admiration.
Anita began dancing as a young girl, in Detroit, Michigan where she grew up. She had the drive to accomplish things, and the perseverance to stick with it and always do your best. To be a successful working dancer, you've got to have that in your DNA. She began dancing professionally in Hollywood, working for David Winters and other fabulous choreographers on shows like "Hullabaloo," and things just took off from there. She has worked with the best, either as a dancer, choreographer, director and/or producer. She knows her stuff, yet is one of the most gracious and easy-going, down-to-earth women I've ever known. When dancers say about another dancer that they "have the heart of a dancer," it is meant!
This passion for excellence serves her well, as she is now owner of Anita Mann Productions, a company specializing in stage, television and theatrical performances.
Anita has been honored by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as one of America's top five contemporary choreographers. She is the recipient of five Emmy nominations including one Emmy Award win, as well as accolades from every facet of the industry.
Her choreography credits include "The Muppets Go Hollywood," for which she earned her first Emmy nomination, and five seasons on "Solid Gold," which earned her two Emmy nominations. Mann also earned an Emmy nomination for her work with "The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon." Her first Emmy win occurred for choreographing "The Miss America Pageant," an honor which she holds close to her heart.
Her immense choreographic credits include "The Cher Show," "The Jacksons," "The Academy Awards," (I worked with Anita as a Dancer when she Choreographed the 1975 Academys) "The Golden Globe Awards," "The Academy of Country Music Awards," "The People's Choice Awards," "The Grammy Hall of Fame," "The Emmys," "The Great Muppet Caper," "Dick Clark's American Bandstand Live," "Sesame Street Live," "The Mighty Morphin Power Ranger Tour," "Snoopy's World of Magic," "Arthur" as well as countless other live, film and television shows.
As well, now in its 20th year, Mann is the Producer and Director of FANTASY at the Luxor, and has created, choreographed, and directed revues for casinos and luxury cruise lines including Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah's, Harveys', The Mirage Hotel & Casino, Riviera Hotel & Casino, The Sands, Holland America, Costa Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International. She was the coordinating producer for the television series, "Dirty Dancing," which was produced by Lions Gate for the WE Channel. She has also worked with Comcast on its "Get Up and Dance" series which was available at Comcast "On Demand." She was a producer of the musical "Imagine This", which was at the New London Theatre in London's West End. She produced and directed a live musical and comedy show starring NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, called: "The Terry Bradshaw Show" which headlined at The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and is currently at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Anita appeared with Miley Cyrus on the VMAs and was honored by the World Choreography Awards with the prestigious Legacy Award last year. Being the very first Woman/Producer on the Las Vegas Strip, (in 1987) she has also been honored by the Vegas and Hollywood F. A. M. E. Awards as Lifetime Achievement for Live Producer.
Last year at The World Choreography Awards, which were held again last evening, November 11, at The Saban Theatre, for the 2019 Awards Ceremony, Anita announced the creation of The Global Dance Initiative, a project Teresa Taylor and Amy Tinkham envisioned, that Anita is on board with, coming to fruition after much precise coordination and planning. It is a most extraordinary gesture and a concept steeped in generosity. This was the beginning of the "Emerging Choreographer Fund," which enables the selected participant, an up-and-coming, innovative choreographer, to be helped promoting their talent/brand/exposure, giving them a financial and guiding boost to get started. For more information, visit Globaldanceinitiative.com.
Another amazing thing about Anita is, and having known her since the mid-'70s, I can vouch for this, she doesn't tell her wide circle of friends what she has been up to. It is staggering to actually read through the list above, and realize, this is just one woman's life and what she has created and manifested, in it. And all done somewhat covertly! But with love and gratitude, and heartfelt intentions.
As if all this staggering list of credits is not enough, Anita announced Monday evening, at the World Choreography Awards, (hot off the Press) another concept she envisioned that is now becoming a reality, and that will change the perception of dancers as valuable contributors to artistic work and to the heart of any production.
A long-time collaborator with Anita is the Award-winning Director Louis Horowitz, who proposed this concept to her, she ran with it, and it has taken off and will be recognized in the near future ~ an all-encompassing ceremony honoring everything Dance: The "Dance Hall of Fame," an event similar to a lot of the Awards shows we see, except all to do with the subject of Dance and Dancers, Choreography and Choreographers, which promises to be an incredible love-in of honoring, adoration and mutual respect among peers, and no doubt an energetic, razzle-dazzle evening.
Anita and I talked and reminisced about a gazillion mutual dancer-friends we've both worked with and how wonderful they were in shaping our Dance community; so many special people in our lives.
In her limited free time (what, is there any?) Anita enjoys spending time with her (pride and joy) family, her husband of 20 ~ recently celebrated ~ years, her 16 (!) grandchildren and her dog "George," one of the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen, and golfing... I don't see how that is actually possible, as just 9 holes can take a few hours to complete... like I said, she's amazing!
Quote from Anita: "I am so blessed."
You are one-of-a-kind, Anita, and I salute you! You are a gift to be treasured! You are an inspirer, an encourager, an angel in disguise to the Dance World. God bless your endeavors!
Anita will be paid homage to this coming Saturday, November 16, 2019 by The Luminario Ballet Company, for her Lifetime Achievement and Influence in Choreography, at their Black Tie Affair, The 2019 Gala Fundraiser "Gala Bacchanal" at the Beverly Hills Women's Club; from 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM with Hor d'ouevres, drinks, a seated dinner, a silent auction, and performances by Luminario Ballet.
Photos Courtesy of SDK Photo, Luminario Ballet and Film Studio Archives