to all dancers, dance enthusiasts and tap dancers. Join us in celebrating the Birthday of Charles Cholly Atkins today 09/30/1913, born Charles Sylvan Atkinson in Alabama. A Tap Master and National Treasure.
Atkins, a tap dancer and vaudeville performer, would later become the house choreographer for the various artists on the Motown music label.
Atkins’ first found fame was in one of the top vaudeville class acts with partner Charles Honi Coles. Billed as Coles & Atkins, they toured nationally and internationally performing with the bands of Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Count Basie, among others.
In 1964, following many years as a freelance choreographer for vocal groups, Atkins was hired by Berry Gordy to work with the artists on his newly formed Motown label. Atkins’ new style of vocal choreography would define an entirely new kind of choreographic style and supply the trademark moves of many quintessential Motown acts such as Gladys Knight and The Pips, The Supremes, The Temptations, and The Four Tops, among others.
Atkins continued working with Motown artists well into the 1980s, however, over the years Atkins’ own choreography may also be seen in groups outside of the Motown family, such as The Cadillacs and the O’Jays. All totaled Atkins worked with more that 75 vocal groups and 20 solo acts over the course of his choreographic career.
Atkins received a Tony Award in 1989 for choreography of the Broadway show Black and Blue, which he shared with Henry LeTang, Frankie Manning and Fayard Nicholas. In 1993, The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Atkins its most prestigious dance honor: a three-year choreographers fellowship.
Other awards and honors include induction in the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the first recipient of the Elder Mentors Award from the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for African American History and Culture, an Honorary Doctorate in Dance from Oklahoma City University. Atkins was also a founding member of the Copasetics and a member of the Tap Legacy Foundation’s Honorary Board.
Sit back and enjoy this clip of Coles and Atkins, Cholly is on screen left when the clip starts.
Class… Rhythm and Musicality like no other, WOW!!!