Jazz Dance Masters
The following are American Jazz Dance masters who have worked with “the Masters,” such as Bob Fosse, Luigi, Matt Mattox, Gus Giordano, and others. They have shared their expertise with Dancin’ Unlimited Jazz Dance Company over the past decade and we greatly appreciate their time and wonderful talents.
Jon Lehrer – Master Teacher and Choreographer
Jon Lehrer had the honor of being the Associate Director, Resident Choreographer, and ten year company member of Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. As a professional, Jon has performed with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, John Passafiume Dancers, for Merv Griffin in Atlantic City, NJ, and in the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. Jon has choreographed seven original works on Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, which have been seen all around the world and received critical acclaim. Jon has also choreographed new works on dancers from the Joffrey Ballet Thodos Dance Chicago, Momenta Dance Theatre, Instruments of Movement, as well international companies Kannon Dance of St. Petersburg, Russia, and Le Jazz Groupe of Monterrey, Mexico. His choreography has been set on many University dance companies including the University of Buffalo, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Nevada Reno, East Central University, and Hope College. Jon teaches master classes throughout the U.S. and around the world, is on the faculty of the Jazz Dance World Congress, Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, and Chicago Dance Connection. In November 2003 Jon had the honor of receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Buffalo Department of Theatre and Dance for his accomplishments as a dancer and choreographer.
In 2007 Jon Lehrer officially began his exciting new dance company, LehrerDance. Five years in the making, LehrerDance showcases Jon’s unique choreography and allows him to cultivate and continue to create a definitive and original style. Jon’s extensive experience in both the modern and jazz dance idioms allows him to create dances that are organic, artistic, accessible, often humorous, and always inspired by life experience and the human condition.
Chet Walker – Master Teacher and Choreographer
Chet Walker has performed on Broadway since the age of 16, appearing in the revival of On the Town. His other Broadway credits include Lorelei, The Ambassadors, and four Bob Fosse musicals: The Pajama Game, Pippin, Dancin’ and Sweet Charity.
As director/choreographer, his professional stage credits include Dory! A Musical Portrait at the Will Geer Theater in Los Angeles, the 10th Anniversary tour of La Cage aux Folles, Sweet Charity in the United States, Holland, Japan, Mexico, Norway and London’s West End. Other productions include Chicago, 42nd Street, A Chorus Line, Follies, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Working, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. For television, Mr. Walker assisted on the NBC special Loretta Lynne Country in the Big Apple, and is a contributing choreographer on Just Dance for Japan’s CTV.
Mr. Walker originally conceived the 1999 Tony-Award-winning musical Fosse which also garnered an Outer Critics’ Circle Award and the Toronto Theater Alliance Award for Choreography. Other award nominations for Fosse include the L.A. Critics’ Award and the Outer Critics’ Circle Award, both for choreography and the Olivier Award for Conceiver of Best Musical.
Mr. Walker’s other awards include the L.A. Dramalogue Award for Choreography for Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Sweden’s equivalent of the Tony Award for Choreography for Annie Get Your Gun, and Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award for his co-choreography of Pal Joey at the Goodman Theatre. Mr. Walker is currently working on a new musical tentatively entitled Valentino.
Mr. Walker is the Director/Choreographer and Artistic Director of 8&ah1 Productions Inc., a nonprofit Musical Theatre Dance Company. 8&ah1 premiered an original Dance/Opera entitled Seduction in New York, and this year, performed at the Doris Duke Theater/Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Confessions of Love. With Robert La Fosse, he co-choreographed the world premiere of The Seven Deadly Sins at Jacob’s Pillow; the production starred La Fosse, Helène Alexopoulos, and Desmond Richardson to name a few.
For the past three years he has been the director of the Jazz Workshop at Jacob’s Pillow. This year finds him traveling to Greece, Norway, Argentina and England to award scholarships to The School at Jacob’s Pillow.
Frank Hatchett – Master Teacher and Choreographer
Entertainers, students, and dance teachers from all over the world come to study with Frank Hatchett at the famed Broadway Dance Center in New York City. Frank continuously tours the country giving master classes, and making special guest appearances. In addition, Frank is one of the master teachers for the annual Jazz Dance World Congress.
The Hatchett style is a blend of strength, funk, and individual interpretation, with an emphasis on selling your performance. Associated exclusively to Frank Hatchett is his unique energy and spirit that have come to be called VOP.
Aside from teaching, Frank Hatchett has choreographed for all aspects of the entertainment industry. ABC’s “Good Morning America” show dubbed “The Doctor of Jazz.” CNBC’s television documentary, “Real Stories” featured a series on Frank Hatchett, which later won an Emmy Award. Mr. Hatchett has also been featured on MTV’s “The Real World” and VH1’s “Driven.” In 2000, Frank Hatchett and Nancy Myers Gitlin co-authored the popular book titled “Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance.” Frank was also honored as one of the recipients of the Fred Astaire Awards in 2002. Mr. Frank Hatchett was named the Educational Spokesperson for the National Dance Week observed April 22nd through May 1st, 2005.
Joe Orlando – Master Teacher and Choreographer
Joe Orlando travels widely to choreograph and conduct workshops during summers: seven years for Bat-Dor Dance Company of Israel, American Dance Festival in North Carolina, and fourteen seasons in Alaska. Mr. Orlando has also been a regional director of Jazz Dance World Congress since its founding.
In New York City, Joe Orlando studied with and became a demonstrator for Luigi. Summers found him also studying with Ana Made Forsythe and Milton Myers at the Alvin Ailey school, as well as with Thelma Hill, Lynn Simonson, and David Howard. Articles in Dance Magazine drew Orlando to Raul Gelabert’s view of and books on kinesiology. He synthesized it all.
With warm enthusiasm and sparkling black eyes, Orlando makes a remarkable impression on his students and the dancers for whom he choreographs. He has achieved the skill of making every move in exactly the right proportion for his compact body–as if each choreography were set for him. It is an achievement that perhaps cannot be taught, but he demonstrates that it is a possibility to each of his students. And he makes them think about it.
“What was always missing for me in dance training,” says Orlando, “was mental challenge. I was fascinated with philosophy and the nature of man.” At the New School of Social Research, Orlando designed his own major in philosophy of man’s creation of art, completing his M.A. degree with a written thesis and dance concert.
“Everything comes from the music,” says Orlando, who remembers the first time he heard Count Basie play. Dancers he looks for must be “very, very attuned to music to have the rhythm in the steps. Jazz is driven by the pulses of the earth and the body…. What dancers should be about is having the ability to reach right out into people’s souls.”
Marcus Alford – Master Teacher and Choreographer
Marcus R. Alford was born in Tripoli, Libya, and found his way to several continents as an Air Force brat. He eventually landed at the University of Alabama, where he earned a B.A. degree. Inspired by his dance teachers, he headed to Chicago where he choreographed, taught, danced, and toured with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago for a decade. Mr. Alford has been on the faculty of every major dance association including D.M.A., D.E.A., Internationale Tanz Werkstatt, Southeastern Regional Ballet Association, Boston Dance Teachers Club, Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, and many others. Marcus’ high energy jazz classes have also inspired students at the Festival of the World in Hungary, The American College Dance Festival, The International Ballet Competition, Jackson, Mississippi, Hubbard Street Dance Studio, Chicago, and the North Carolina School of the Arts. In 1986 Mr. Alford founded “JAZZ ON TAP” (the Metro Atlanta Jazz and Tap Dance Festival) which has grown to be one of the largest dance events of its kind in the U.S. In 1991 he authored Jazz Danceology, now a standard in the libraries of jazz dancers and teachers everywhere. Alford’s company, Jazz Dance Theatre South, has entertained audiences throughout the US, presenting the highest calibre of concert jazz and tap since 1986. Mr. Alford has perfomed in and/or choreographed many award winning industrials and TV/video projects. His “Customer is King” (for Media Mix, London, England/Atlanta, GA) won a Telly Award for outstanding television and video production and “Alcatel is here!” (for the Networld/Interop Communications Show) won the best show award. With Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Marcus danced “The Rehearsal”, an Emmy Award winner. His industrial works include Kohler Corporation, Sprint, I.B.M., NFL Commissioners, and Milliken Carpets. His concert choreography is used by companies throughout the dance world. Along with his wife Annie Day, Mr. Alford serves as Owner/Artistic Director of Dancentre South in metro Atlanta. Marcus loves to share the wonderful art and excitement of dance with others!