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Advisory Board

Dancers Over 40 is blessed to have these four super-talented women on our Advisory Board.

Valerie HarperValerie Harper was born in Suffern, NY and attended Hunter College and the New School for Social Research, both in Manhattan. Her stage career began at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, not as a Rockette but dancing in the now-discontinued Corps de Ballet. While earning her living by performing in such Broadway musicals as "Li'l Abner," "Destry Rides Again" with Andy Griffith, "Take Me Along" with Jackie Gleason, "Wildcat" with Lucille Ball and "Subways Are For Sleeping" with Orson Bean and Carol Lawrence, Valerie studied acting. Her teachers included John Cassavetes, Mary Tarcai and William Hickey. She was privileged to train with and work for Viola Spolin, the creator of Theater Games and author of "Improvisation for the Theatre." Viola's son, director Paul Sills who created and directed the famed Second City, invited Valerie to join his company of players. As time went on she performed in nightclubs (Cellar Door, Village Gate), summer stock (University of Connecticut), regional theatre (Seattle Repertory Company) and improvised and wrote radio commercials. Valerie's later Broadway credits include Carl Reiner's "Something Different," the Tony award-winning "Paul Sills' Story Theater," Sills' production of "Ovid's Metamorphoses" and in the new millennium, Charles Busch's "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife." She counts many DO40 members as her close friends from this special time in her life.

Valerie achieved fame and four Emmy Awards playing Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and the spin-off series "Rhoda." During her nine years as the character "Rhoda", she was the recipient of a Golden Globe Award, Harvard University Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Award, Hollywood Women's Press Club "Golden Apple" Award, and a Photoplay Gold Medal Award. In 2000 Valerie reprised the role of Rhoda Morgenstern (along with Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards) in the ABC television movie "Mary and Rhoda," which attracted nearly 18 million viewers. In 1987 she was seen as "Valerie Hogan" in the then-titled NBC series "Valerie" (later "The Hogan Family") and also starred in the 1990 CBS series "City" and in the 1994 CBS series "The Office."

Throughout her career, Valerie has continued to work in the theatre. She performed with various companies of Second City and Story Theatre in many venues all over the country and in Canada. In 1970 she was a member of the original stage production of "Story Theater" in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum and opened with the show in New York when it moved to Broadway. In 2001 Valerie was back on Broadway starring in Charles Busch's hilarious comedy "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife". She played "the Wife" (Marjorie Taub) for a year on Broadway and then for another year in the National Tour. DO40 welcomes her back to her roots – and her friends!

Marge ChampionMARGE CHAMPION was one half of the "Gower and Marge Champion" dance team. She began dancing as a child under the instruction of her father, Ernest Belcher, who was a noted Hollywood ballet coach. As a teen, she served as the model for the heroine of Disney's feature-length cartoon SNOW WHITE and for the Blue Fairy in PINOCCHIO, and appeared in westerns under the name "Marjorie Bell." She teamed up with actor/choreographer Gower Champion in 1945; they were married in 1947. They went on to appear together in a string of highly popular musical films in the '50s, becoming the screen's most appealing dance team since Astaire and Rogers. After the team quit making films, she went on to be a character actress in a number of movies; also, she created dances for films (The Day of the Locusts, etc.), the stage (Stepping Out, Grover's Corners), and TV. Marge Champion’s work as the choreographer for the TV special QUEEN OF THE STARDUST BALLROOM earned her an Emmy in 1975.

Graciela DanieleGRACIELA DANIELE danced in the original FOLLIES with first DO40 President Chris Nelson, and performed in many memorable musicals, including the original CHICAGO for Bob Fosse. Her Broadway director/ choreographer credits include MARIE CHRISTINE, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN revival AND DANGEROUS GAME. She choreographed THE GOODBYE GIRL, THE RINK with Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera and the NYSF production of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE on Broadway, in Los Angeles and London. She was awarded the 1996 and 1997 FOSSE Award as well as the George, “Mr. Abbott,” Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Director/ Choreographer in 1998.

Chita RiveraCHITA RIVERA, winner of two Tony Awards (Kiss of the Spider Woman; The Rink) and seven additional Tony nominations told DO40 board member and former dance partner George Marcy that she was thrilled to be added to our roster. She recently starred on Broadway in CHITA RIVERA: THE DANCER’S LIFE, a musical celebrating her life and career as one of America’s most beloved stage performers. She appeared in the revival of the musical Nine with Antonio Banderas. In December, 2002 she received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in Washington, DC. Ms. Rivera created the role of Velma Kelly in the original Broadway production of Chicago opposite Gwen Verdon (1975) and appears in the film version.

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