In Memoriam #9


Dennis Cole

Dennis Cole, director/choreographer, dancer, producer and business owner died of cancer in November, 2016. He was 74.  Raised in the Bronx, he went to the High School of the Performing Arts.  After dancing in number of shows himself, Dennis worked closely with Gemze de Lappe on restaging revivals of Agnes de Mille shows OKLAHOMA, BRIGADOON and CAROUSEL.   He was the guiding light of the Darien Dinner Theatre in Darien, Connecticut for many years and produced, directed and choreographed many of the productions.  In later years he and his partner owned a very successful bed and breakfast in Provincetown.

He is survived by his partner of 54 years, production stage manager John Actman, a sister-in-law, three nephews, a niece and great niece.

Condolences may be sent to

Christopher Nelson –
Dance Magazine, January, 1996

Because there is not a lot of current information on Chris, we thought it appropriate to post an excerpt from a DANCE MAGAZINE January, 1996, article featuring (then) DO40 president Chris Nelson.

“I still get chills thinking about the performers who came to our early meeting,” says Christopher Nelson, one of the founders of Dancers Over 40. They were the celebs of the past, the history of dance in our time. It was April 25, 1994.  I'll never forget that date.”

“It all started when Eileen Casey (who had been interviewing older dancers for a documentary) and I got together.  Zoya Leporska joined us as we met in my living room or coffee shop and before we knew it – Dancers Over 40 was formed. In one year we grew to 30 dancers, 40 to 80 years old.

Nelson, now joined by John Mineo and Frank Pietri as founders of the group, points out that the formation of an organization for older dances was inevitable -- older stars are currently performing abroad with great success. Choreographers such as Liz Lerman, Maguy Marin, Martha Clarke and Graeme Murphy have been employing dancers over 40 some time.

“Everyone is beginning to see,” says Nelson, “that older dancers, although able to perform less physically, have more to give dramatically, are more expressive, and more confident onstage than younger dancers. They are reliable mentally flexible and disciplined. And they arrive at a new role with a range of experience that enables them to handle a diversity of styles, insight into characterizations of, and to employ a variety of phrasing, dynamics, pacing, and spontaneity and performance.

Nelson's background, like that of many former dancers, included a mixed bag of training -- modern dance (Graham School, Jean Erdman, and Sophie Maslow), ballet (Don Farnsworth) and jazz (Frank Wagner). He was a successful performer until he hit a midlife crisis. It led him to New York University, where he obtained a degree in liberal arts with a concentration in psychology. “But when the underbrush cleared away,” he admits, “I was still unsatisfied not living the creative life I wanted. I was still a dancer, who had lost what he loved to do. “So I got into Broadway shows.  Then three years ago again I realized that basically I was still not expressing myself creatively and wasn't being honest with myself.”

Back to class. This time to the New Dance Group Arts Center in the Broadway district, a venerable institution founded in 1932.  He passed the audition for his first job in years, Woody Allen's movie Mighty Aphrodite.  It reinforced his belief that dancers over 40 were still employable and needed to bond and network.

The response to networking,” says Nelson, “was overwhelming, but we had no idea how to formulate an organization, didn't know what the legalities were, or how to fundraise. But we were determined to find help. Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts came to the rescue and the New York Foundation became the group's conduit for funds until it achieves nonprofit status in the near future.

John Mineo

John Mineo’s credits include the original Broadway companies of Hello, Dolly!, A Chorus Line, Pippin, Dancin’ and the revival of Chicago. John made his stage debut as a teenager and appeared in some 20 Broadway musicals, including several directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. John was presented with the Gypsy Robe backstage on opening night of Chicago in 1996. 

John met his first wife, Broadway dancer and DO40 member Katherine Hull Mineo, in the ensemble of  Hello, Dolly!  and they lived in Ridgefield Park beginning in mid-1970s. Katherine taught dance and acting at a studio on Teaneck Road and was also in the Radio City Music Hall Corps de Ballet.  She participated in DO40’s panel on RCMH’s illustrious ballet corps just a year before she died.

John and his second wife, Kyo, moved to Kyo Mineo’s native Japan in 2005 and ran a theater and tap dance studio in Osaka. They returned to the United States in August, resettling in Ridgefield Park.

In addition to Kyo, John is survived by his children from his first marriage, Bremen Marguccio of Highland Lakes and Jarad Mineo of Ridgefield Park; a son from his second marriage, Aren Mineo of Ridgefield Park; three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.  The cause of death was bone and prostate cancer.

From Steve Boockvor:

John was a carpenter, leather craftsman, author, musician, motorcycle rider, father, grandfather and a great grandfather.  Oh yeah, he was also a performer on Broadway.  His mother was his first tap dance teacher at the tender age of 3, working out in a studio just around the corner from the High School of Performing Arts where later Bella Malinka and Harry Asmus made him into the dancer he ultimately became because of his strong foundation in the ballet technique.  His unique and cocky little 5’6” frame served him famously well, garnering a Broadway career spanning six decades during the Golden Age of Broadway.

We knew John would always be there for us – whether he knew how to do a job or not.  None of us really knew how to install outdoor lighting, but John was right there adding muscle to lay outdoor lighting in our new CT home.  Once installed, we tackled the 4-hour job of trimming a giant outdoor tree for Christmas.  We ceremoniously threw the switch, but only the bottom half of the tree lit up.  John, in his own inimitable way, just stood there gazing up and stated, “Steve, that top half is Jewish.” 

Rest in peace, my brother; my friend -- rest in peace.

Chuck Kelley

Chuck Kelley died last week after a long illness.  He began his NYC teaching career at the June Taylor School of Dance, which later was run by the Harkness School.  He taught for years at the Farnsworth & Hauer Studios and for two decades at Broadway Dance Center. His teaching career spans nationally and globally over a half century. Chuck also taught Master Classes for every dance teacher association in the U.S.A. and Canada. He is the only teacher who has been honored by all of the renowned dance teacher associations for his contributions to the “Art of Teaching and Elevating Dance Technique.” Chuck’s reputation for precise application of technique to movement and his insistence that ballet be integral to a dancer’s training is what drew teachers from all over to learn from him and to pass this philosophy onto their students.
During the 70s and 80s, Chuck had students in literally every Broadway show, and was the only acrobatic teacher available when dancers wanted to learn a “trick” for their auditions. It was those “tricks” they learned from Chuck that very often got them the job! Chuck’s students have worked in every sector of the entertainment industry and they more than often attribute their success to the elements of Chuck’s teaching style and his motivational personality.  

There have been no other details of arrangements or memorial.  There is a Charles M. Kelley page on Facebook for all of you to check to see when those arrangements are made.

Bob Audy

Choreographer, director, and tap and jazz teacher Robert Audy was Broadway’s go-to guy when big name performers needed to learn  to tap dance. Shirley MacLaine, John Travolta, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Vereen, and Joel Grey were some of the actors he coached.

Joel Grey remembers when Audy prepared him for the musical GEORGE M! in 1968. He had to play the greatest tap dancer in America and was not really a tapper, Grey admitted. The clock was ticking and Bob had to make me good quickly.”For eight weeks, Audy coached Grey through the choreography of the entire musical. “I went every day before rehearsal to work out with him and he was so patient and kind and thorough. He really knew his craft and he was a joyous dancer himself.”

Born August 8, 1931 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Audy was the youngest of six children. His determination to be a tap dancer started early and was inspired by the movie musicals of the 1940s, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. But Audy grew up at a time when boys didn’t tap dance. Knowing that his parents would never approve, Audy hid his tap shoes in a bag and slipped out to attend classes given by the local dance teacher.

By his early twenties, Audy had moved to New York City where he took classes with Roy Dodge and Paul Draper. Draper’s unique style, a combination of ballet and tap, greatly influenced Audy. Like his mentor, Audy was a lyrical tapper, light on his feet, and delivering crisp, clear taps. And similar to Draper, Audy used his upper body and arms to express himself.

He performed in summer stock, but his stage career was cut short when he broke his ankle. Rather than continue as a performer, he developed skills as a choreographer and director, working on productions at the St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre (The Muny) and the Hilton U. Brown Starlight Theatre in Indianapolis. Producers of The Starlight Musicals -- also known as “Stars under the Stars and cast A-List celebrities, including Ann Miller, Carol Lawrence, Gordon MacRae, Carol Baker, and Vicki Lawrence in their summer stock productions.  His success as a stage director and choreographer led to jobs in television and film.

But Audy’s great love was teaching. For six decades, hundreds of students took his classes at Variety Arts, Broadway Dance Center, Stepping Out and NOLA Studios. Dance Masters of America invited him to guest teach at their conventions.  He travelled to France and Finland to give master classes to major dance organizations. Closer to home, one student who was Chairman and CEO of Interep National Radio Studios, Ralph Guild, had a dance studio built in the Manhattan office of the privately-owned company, where Audy taught the busy corporate chief and others to tap dance.

 Audy wrote two books published by Random House, Teach Yourself How To Tap and Jazz Dancing which became best-sellers and are currently sold on Amazon. Videos, shot by students, run on YouTube. He received numerous awards over the years. He was honored by the Dance Masters of America, Tap City, and Dancers Over Forty. In 2007, he received the prestigious Flo-Bert Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York City Tap Extravaganza whose past honorees include the Nicholas Brothers, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller, Paul Draper, Donald O’Connor, Gregory Hines, Tommy Tune, and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.

In recent years, Audy developed prostate cancer. Despite the many treatments and doctors visits, he continued to teach up until his death.  He died March 9th, 2017 in New York City.  He is survived by his husband, William Becker, and long-time students whom Audy treated like family.  Robert Audy was 85 years old.


Photo By Jeff Eason, Wilsonmodels, Inc