Important People in Jazz

By Clara and Michelle


Eugene "Luigi" Louis Faccuito

Jazz is a very common style of dance nowadays, and many don't realize that someone had to come up with all of it. Born to Italian parents in Steubenville, Ohio as the 8th of 11 children, he grew up coached by his older brother to sing, dance, and use his acro skills to win small, local talent shows. His rising stardom was interrupted when he was drafted into WW2 at the age of 18. He returned to the U.S. when he was 21 with the intention of becoming a lawyer. However, his older brother convinced him that performing was his calling. So, Luigi moved to California and enrolled in his first real ballet classes.

Notable Works and Importance

Luigi's rise to stardom was interrupted once again when he was tragically rescued from a car crash in 1946, just 3 months after moving to California. When he awoke from his coma, he was left paralyzed on the right side of his body, left side of the face, and with double vision. Although the physical therapy technology was very under-developed at the time, Luigi didn't lose hope when the doctors said he would never walk again. He simply responded, "I don't want to walk. I want to dance."

Luigi began to develop techniques to help his rehabilitation into dance again, and little did he know they would become useful and well-known jazz techniques and warm ups even today. One of the issues he was faced with was leaving the barre. He couldn't do the same things in centre that he could at barre, so he focused on "feeling from the inside" and "putting the body in the right position." He came up with many new basic jazz positions used today as well as the mentality that you should pull up through your body as you dance. Luigi also coined the phrase "5, 6, 7, 8" as when to start dancing.

Featured or Starred in: "On the Town," "Annie Get Your Gun," "Singin' in the Rain" and "The Band Wagon," as well as running his own Jazz Dance Company, which toured for 2 years.

Luigi is still alive, and teaching at a Jazz Centre in New York at the age of 89.

Luigi's Dance Class
Roslyn Kind interviews Eugene Louis Facciuto (aka "Luigi") dance world icon

Sonya Tayeh

Sonya Taneh

Sonya was born in 1977, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. She did not start dancing in a studio until she was 18. She was a student at Wayne state university. In addition to her dancing, she was a part of many different organizations and groups in her community. She was inspired by many modern artists in her day, and she wanted to make her life based on her inspirations. During her time in Wayne, she took a lot of dance history, and she also took different astronomy classes, and dance history.

Notable works and importance

Sonya is mostly known for being on 'so you think you can dance'. The show really inspired her to do a lot of things after she was finished with it. She choreographed May live events for famous singers/dancers like Miley Cyrus, Kyle Mingrove, Madonna, and others. She choreographed the rock musical 'The last goodbye', which is based on the famous movie 'Romeo and Juliet'. She is inspired by jazz dance because she feels like it can let her express all her emotions through all different styles of jazz dance. In January 2009, Sonya was named one of Dance magazines '25 to watch'. In July 2013, taken was nominated for an Emmy award for outstanding choreography, for 'possibly maybe' , 'turning pages', and 'sail'.
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