The Jack Cole Style

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Cole used many ethnic and folk styles of dance (like East Indian, flamenco, and the lindy) as a source for movements. His style was derived from dance movements performed for centuries by common people, but theatricalised for use on the stage. This is why, when pressed for a definition of his movement, Cole termed it "urban folk dance."

When trying to describe Cole's movement, it is best to identify certain predominate characteristics. A partial list would include dancing in plie; with isolated body movements; with compressed or stored energy; and with a keen sense of manipulating rhythm, spatial levels, and attack. The first item of dancing in plie is a key to the Cole style. Cole made great use of a wide and
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Cole's dances generally had a consistent set of movement qualities. First was the used of recoil and release to launch bursts of energy. In a fashion similar to a cat crouching and compressing its hind legs in order to spring at its prey, Cole used his plie level in order to launch the body and give dynamic impact to his movements. Cole dancer Buzz Miller remembers him as being a "coiled spring."

Another quality was that of supreme strength in movement. His dancers were rock solid, and Graciela Daniele, the well-known choreographer and director of musicals at Lincoln Center, felt that Cole dancers were "warriors." An excellent description of this aspect of the Cole style was given by critic Debra Jowitt, who said " Cole dancing strikes me as immensely aggressive; almost every gesture is delivered with maximum force, but then has to be stopped cold in mid-air to achieve the clarity of design he immense counter effort has to be used to stop the gesture."

Cole explored all spatial level in his choreography. Knee slides and floorwork were common, and it was normal for dancers to spring from the deepest plie into high, suspended leaps. He also abhorred the smiling, happy face seen in most jazz and tap dance of the time. Instead, he preferred a cool, almost cold look in the eyes. He danced with a piercing gaze, much like a newly caged tiger, that could prod and intimidate an audience.
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