He died at 92, and he’d retired long ago, but I still feel a sense of loss that Michael Kidd, the brilliant choreographer, has died:
Michael Kidd, the award-winning choreographer of exuberant dance numbers for Broadway shows like “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Guys and Dolls” and Hollywood musicals including “The Band Wagon” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” died on Sunday 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 actually 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 Hollywood, he received a special 1997 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 “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” a 1954 musical of the American frontier whose dances, which he created for ballet dancers, were not supposed to appear balletic. He had them perform what he called “work movements,” like wielding axes.
“I always use real-life gestures, and most of my dancing is based on real life,” Mr. Kidd said in an interview. He defined his choreography as “human behavior and people’s manners, stylized into musical rhythmic forms.”
Anna Kisselgoff, the former chief dance critic of The New York Times, wrote that Mr. Kidd’s signature was “characterization through energy, epitomized by a lovesick male clan going courting with an acrobatic challenge dance” in “Seven Brides.”
Michael Kidd was born 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.
You can read the rest of the very nice NT Times obit here.
UPDATE: Soccer Dad asked in the comments if I’d seen the post at Seraphic Secret about Michael Kidd’s death. I hadn’t when he asked that question, but I have now and I can highly recommend it.