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Stage and Screen Choreographer Michael Kidd dead at 92

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Stage and screen choreographer Michael Kidd died this past Sunday in Los Angeles at the age of 92, according to the New York Times. From his beginnings in Brooklyn, Kidd moved over to Manhattan to dance and create dances for dance companies including Lincoln Kirstein's Ballet Caravan (1937), Eugene Loring's Dance Players (1941) and Ballet Theater, the predecessor to the American Ballet Theater (1942-47).

Soon after dance critic Edwin Denby opined that Kidd’s talents “leaned more toward entertainment than poetic expression,” Kidd made his way to Broadway stages and stayed there for the next forty-five years. In doing so, he earned Tony Awards for choreography in the musicals “Finian’s Rainbow” (1947), “Guys and Dolls” (1951), “Can-Can” (1954), “Li’l Abner” (1957) and “Destry Rides Again” (1960).

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He moved to Hollywood in the early fifties and made movie musicals with Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Gwen Verdon, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Andy Griffith, Lucille Ball, Danny Kaye and others. A highpoint of this part of his career was the 1954 film “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” directed by Stanley Donen. A 2004 New York Times review of the 50th-anniversary DVD release of the film referred to the barn-raising sequence--choreographed by Michael Kidd--as "one of the most rousing dance numbers ever put on screen."

As the movie musical genre faded away, Kidd continued to work on television specials and was nominated for an Emmy Award for his 1982 work on “Baryshnikov in Hollywood.” He also received a special Academy Award in 1996 “in recognition of his services to the art of dance in the art of the screen.” More recently, he worked with contemporary artists like Bernadette Peters and Janet Jackson.

Mr. Kidd defined his choreography as ”human behavior and people’s manners, stylized into musical rhythmic forms” and added, ”I always use real-life gestures, and most of my dancing is based on real life.”

Michael Kidd is survived by his second wife, the former dancer Shelah Hackett and four children.