Magazine article Dance Magazine

Choreographer-Director Mercedes Ellington Talks about June Taylor (1918-2004)

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Choreographer-Director Mercedes Ellington Talks about June Taylor (1918-2004)

Article excerpt

June Taylor, the Emmy-winning choreographer whose chorus-line routines on The Jackie Gleason Show made history, was a mentor figure for me. I was the first, as well as the only, black dancer in the June Taylor Dancers and she looked after me.

Being a June Taylor dancer was one of the most coveted jobs in the entertainment business in the 1950s. By the time they had their TV debut on the Ed Sullivan show, they were already a headline act. In the summer she would do ah extravagant show at Jones Beach that drew crowds from all over. Her formations were inspired by everything from football plays to Busby Berkeley. She had a great sense of organization and focus.

In the beginning she was training to be a performer herself, and she was actually being groomed by Hollywood to be au Ann Miller type because she could do everything: sing, act, tap dance, ballet, jazz, modern everything. …

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