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Phil Black Tribute - Summer 2006


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Phil Black Tribute

Some of Phil’s former students (Nancy Murton, Billy Marti, Otto Cedeno, Paige Dana), and DO40 president John Sefakis (who taught at Phil’s studio for 15 years) put together a mini-dance class, complete with all of Phil’s dance styles, including a mini-combination. The highlight was M.C. Anthony Vincent Bova’s “recreation” of Phil, gently reassuring his students (while watering his plants and throwing drum sticks at them) and making them repeat the combination over and over until they got it right.

One of the highlights of the evening was Paige Dana’s loving, yet honest recreation of her years at the Phil Black Dance Studio, from the first time she climbed the stairs on West 50th Street, past the Tango Palace on the second floor -- a young girl, without the requisite skills to make it as a dancer, who, with Phil’s encouragement and assistance, made it into CATS on Broadway.

The show was produced by John Sefakis for DO40 and Nancy Murton and Anthony Vincent Bova. Nancy and Anthony worked tirelessly on the event, and rounded up many of Phil’s former students whom he hadn’t seen – and who hadn’t seen each other – in decades. The last segment was a videotaped lovefest from Eddie Mekka (formerly of TV’s Laverne and Shirley -- and a Phil Black Dancer to the core!). Eddie now lives in Las Vegas and was starring in the Las Vegas company of Hairspray! at the time. Also included was a tap routine filmed in Canada where Eddie and Phil played father and son in an original musical written by Eddie.

Paige Dana

At the end of the evening, Phil was presented with a Shadow Box, filled with memorabilia (and of course, a drum stick!) and a “bronze” tap shoe affixed to the top of the piece. The evening’s sponsor was Gold’s Gym, who generously donated a free year’s membership to their gym, which was won by former dancer Tom Sinibaldi. Tom danced and toured in several shows here in the U.S. and abroad before hanging up his shoes to emphasize on singing and acting in musical theater and opera.

Many of Phil’s students joined DO40 at the Tribute – and now you can, too! Right here online! DO40 now has Paypal, so please support our organization with a membership or donation.

We can’t do it without you! Our membership year runs September 1 – August 31st.


In the Seventies, Eighties, & Nineties, dancers from all over the world would travel to New York City to study with Phil Black at his studio on 50th & Broadway. For 30 years he dedicated his life to teaching the art of dancing in both jazz and tap and preparing his students to get jobs. 70 percent of his students ended up working in show business.

Some notable Broadway & Film stars who have graced his studio include Goldie Hawn, Eddie Mekka, Greg Burge, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, John Travolta, Irene Cara, Johnny Mathis, Marlo Thomas, Terri Garr, Chita Rivera, Bette Midler, Charlotte D’Amboise, Priscilla Lopez, Gelsey Kirkland, Danielle Brisebois, Priscilla Lopez, Anna Bella Sciora, Cynthia OnRubia, Jimmy Litton, Christine Langner & the Twyla Tharp Dance Company.


Phil, thanking the audience/students,
flanked by his sister, Mary (l) and friend Barbara Kossen (r). Nancy Murton
looks on from the wings.

What made Phil Black so unique as a teacher was his commitment to his students. In an article for Dance Teacher Magazine he spoke a little about his method and is quoted as saying, “I want the students to understand how the movements work or why they don’t. In addition, the dancers must learn to sell what they have. They must do the steps and make it theirs. I tell students, come every day, and I guarantee you’ll be working in a year or two. Know what you want to do and do it. Just believe in yourself and make yourself the best you can be.”

Producers Anthony Vicent Bova,
John Sefakis and Nancy Murton

Phil demanded a lot from his students and he used to have a reputation for being pretty tough. But those dancers that chose to study with Phil did so because he was an extraordinary teacher/choreographer that could get the best out of his students. To study with Phil Black was both an honor and an experience. Some of his advanced classes were known to run for 3 hours with students still wanting more. He taught many styles of jazz which included rock, lyrical, straight (Jack Cole) style, latin, and swing. He was a master of style, line, and shading. These 3 elements are rarely taught in classes today.

Top to bottom, l – r, Billy Marti, George Marcy, Otto Cedeno, Anthony Vincent Bova, Karen Holman, Leslie Riddle (middle row) Tom Adams, Nancy Murton, Isaac (below) Arte Phillips, Jay Jenkins and Stella Mora.


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