Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Marc Breaux Nov. 3, 1924 - Nov. 19, 2013 Choreographer for 'Mary Poppins,' 'Sound of Music'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Marc Breaux Nov. 3, 1924 - Nov. 19, 2013 Choreographer for 'Mary Poppins,' 'Sound of Music'

Article excerpt

When Dick Van Dyke got the role of Bert in the 1964 movie musical "Mary Poppins," Walt Disney asked him if he had a recommendation for a choreographer. Mr. Van Dyke recalled working with the team of Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood, who had created a number for the Jack Benny television show.

"I'm not really a dancer," Mr. Van Dyke said. "I could move a little and I was what you call an eccentric dancer. But they took what I could do and made the most of it."

Disney took his recommendation and the married duo created one of the best-known live-action dances in the history of the studio -- the chimney sweep number to the song "Step In Time."

"Mary Poppins" also led them to work on the 1965 film version of "The Sound of Music." And in the 1970s -- during the time variety shows were popular on television -- they created dances for more than 200 TV episodes.

Mr. Breaux, 89, died Nov. 19 in Mesa, Ariz., in an assisted- living facility where he had been in frail condition, said his son, Michael.

Working with performers who were not primarily dancers became a Breaux and Wood hallmark. It was a situation they faced often as the choreographers on the Saturday night variety show "The Hollywood Palace" that ran from 1964 to 1970 and sometimes featured singers and comedians in dance numbers.

"You try to put them with good dancers who can haul them around if you had to," Mr. Breaux said in a 1999 interview conducted by members of the arts faculty at the University of Northern Iowa. "So you would just say, 'Do you know what your left foot is?' And they would usually say 'yes.' And I would say, 'Well, we're going to stamp the left foot twice and then we're going to stamp the right foot once.' You had to be very specific with what you told them."

Marc Breaux was born Nov. 3, 1924, in Carencro, La., near Lafayette. He studied dance at what is now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette before serving in the Navy as a pilot during World War II. …

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