Other Notable Deaths

December 25, 2007



Michael Kidd, the award-winning choreographer of exuberant dance numbers for Broadway shows like Finian's Rainbow, Guys and Dolls and Can-Can, and Hollywood musicals like The Band Wagon and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, died Sunday night at his home in Los Angeles. The cause was cancer, said his nephew, Robert Greenwald.

Biographical sources generally give Mr. Kidd's age as 88, but Mr. Greenwald said his uncle was 92.

On Broadway, Mr. Kidd won five Tony awards: for Finian's Rainbow in 1947, Guys and Dolls in 1951, Can-Can in 1954, Li'l Abner in 1957 and Destry Rides Again in 1960.

In 1996, he received a special Academy Award "in recognition of his services to the art of dance in the art of the screen."

Perhaps his best-known film work was in 1954 in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a musical of the American frontier; the dances were created by Mr. Kidd for ballet dancers who were not supposed to appear balletic. Instead, he had them perform what he called "work movements," like wielding axes.

Mr. Kidd defined his choreography as "human behavior and people's manners, stylized into musical rhythmic forms."

He added, "I always use real-life gestures, and most of my dancing is based on real life."

Michael Kidd was born Michael Greenwald in Brooklyn, the son of an immigrant barber, Abraham Greenwald, and his wife, Lillian. While still at New Utrecht High School, he attended a modern dance performance, was hooked and began to study with Blanche Evan.

In 1936 and 1937, he attended City College of New York, intending to be a chemical engineer, but in mid-1937 he received a scholarship to the School of American Ballet.

By 1941, he had become a soloist and assistant director for Eugene Loring's Dance Players, and from 1942 to 1947, he was a soloist for Ballet Theater, which is now called American Ballet Theater.

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