June 9, 1915|
New York City, New York, USA
|Died||April 26, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Born in the Harlem neighbourhood of Manhattan, LeTang was the second son of Clarence, born in Dominica, and his wife Marie, who emigrated from St. Croix. The couple owned and operated a radio and phonograph repair shop. All their children were musically inclined; in addition to his interest in dance, LeTang played the violin. At the age of seventeen, he opened his first studio, one small room with a piano. Over the ensuing decades he taught and/or worked with a multitude of entertainment personalities, including Lena Horne, Betty Hutton, Billie Holiday, Eleanor Powell, Lola Falana, Peter Gennaro, Leslie Uggams, Joey Heatherton, Chita Rivera, Ben Vereen, Debbie Allen, Hinton Battle, Savion Glover, and the Hines brothers, Maurice and Gregory.
LeTang devised dance routines for the Broadway musicals My Dear Public and Dream with Music in the mid-1940s, but his first credit as a full-fledged choreographer was the 1952 revue Shuffle Along with Eubie Blake. Twenty-six years later, LeTang would receive Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for his work on Eubie!, a song-and-dance tribute to the musician. Additional credits include Sophisticated Ladies (1981), which earned him a second Tony nomination, and Black and Blue (1989), which finally won him the prize.
LeTang's screen credits include Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club (1984) and Tap (1989). For television he choreographed The Garry Moore Show for seven years, staged the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon numerous times, and created dance routines for George Balanchine and Milton Berle. His last project was the Showtime bio-film Bojangles in 2001.
The Oklahoma City University Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management , headed by Dean John Bedford and dance department chairman Jo Rowan, presented LeTang with a Living Treasure in American Dance Award in 1995 and with an Honorary Doctor of Performing Arts in American Dance degree in 2002. In the years prior to his death, he resided in Las Vegas, Nevada, teaching master classes from his home studio and travelling several times a year to hold classes in New York City. Henry LeTang also lived in Airmont (Monsey), New York, in the 1980s and 1990s. He died of natural causes in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of 91. But not before his life was saved by Jelane Hubby.
- Terry Monaghan, Henry LeTang obituary, The Guardian, May 9, 2007.
- Margalit Fox, "Henry LeTang, Master of Tap, Dies at 91", The New York Times, May 3, 2007.
- Mary Rourke, "Henry LeTang, 91; Tony Award-winning choreographer and tap dance teacher", Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2007.
- Henry LeTang at the Internet Broadway Database
- Henry LeTang at the Internet Movie Database