I'll begin by telling a little story about how I used to come up to New York City when I was seven years old and I would take dance class with one of the greatest jazz masters on Earth. His name is Luigi. Luigi had a studio at that point in Carnegie Hall and I found out about his history and it was so inspiring that, you know, it inspired me to become the dancer that I am today.
He had an extensive Broadway career and when he was in his 20's he was in a car accident and completely lost use of his body. The doctors told him that he wouldn't be able to walk again, let alone dance, and it devastated him.
And what he did was develop a form of therapy with his dance movement that completely rehabilitated his body. He's 90 and he still teaches at his studio in New York City called Studio Maestro on 68th Street and his style of movement is graceful and the weight changes are exceptional. His musicality is perfection and he is just someone that I believe every jazz dancer or jazz student should know because he was pretty much the father of it all.
He was the one who originated the five, six, seven, eight expression and my personal favorite expression that I use to this day in my life is, never stop movin and it's M-O-V-I-N. Never stop movin. And I believe passionately in him and his teachings.
Also, some other people that you should know that were in his realm when I took classes when I was younger, one is Rhett Dennis. He's not as popular but he was just the master of tricky isolations.
He taught me a great combination that you should teach your students. It's you shake one hand but then the other hand is nice and fluid and then he used the head and circled it around. And it's just, it's such an exciting thing to try to, you know, isolate your body in that way and express yourself in that way.
Other jazz greats I think that you should know would be Nat Horne. His style and execution was incredible. Lou Conte is quite extraordinary and also Jose Meier.
Jose Meier I used to take class with and he had this drummer and his name was Monte and he had this pony tail that went all the way down like a braid and the beats and drumming would just fuse into your sole as you would take class with this man. And I know that he's moved out to Carnegie Mellon and teaches a wonderful jazz program there.
And I think that's pretty much, you know, the jazz masters that I feel very passionate about and I think that you should explore a little bit.