Bennett, Michael, 1943–87, American dancer and choreographer, b. Buffalo, N.Y. He appeared in West Side Story and Subways Are for Sleeping. During the 1970s, he was one of the most successful directors and choreographers of Broadway musicals. His credits include Promises, Promises (1968), Coco (1969), and Follies (1971). In A Chorus Line (1975), one of the most successful musicals in history, the song-and-dance elements of the show are so interwoven with the plot as to be inseparable.
See K. Mandelbaum, A Chorus Line and the Musicals of Michael Bennet (1989).
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Bennett, Michael (b. Michael Bennett Di Figlia)(1943–87) dancer, choreographer, stage director/producer; born in Buffalo, N.Y. By age three he was dancing at a dance school in Buffalo; by age 12 he had mastered all forms of dance; at 16 he dropped out of school to join the chorus of a touring company of West Side Story and toured Europe for a year. Back in New York City, he danced in choruses until emerging as a choreographer, his first show being A Joyful Noise (1966); his first real hit (with eight Tony Awards) was Promises, Promises (1968), and he went on to choreograph Company (1970) and Follies (1971). By this time his reputation was such that he was often called in as a "show doctor" to save struggling productions. Working with a group of so-called "gypsies," chorus dancers, he conceived of a show that would be based on their lives and careers; this became Chorus Line, which opened in 1975 and went on to become Broadway's longest running musical. He was hailed as having "reinvented" the American musical, and although some would claim he had tendency to take credit as well as control, he was undeniably an influential choreographer. With some of his profits from the many productions of Chorus Line around the world, he bought (1977) an 8-story building on lower Broadway where he established offices and rehearsal spaces that he rented to other dance companies. (He sold the building in 1986.) He had another hit with Dreamgirls (1981) but in 1985 he suddenly abandoned a new musical, Scandal, and two years later he died of AIDS.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.