Dance in Time: December
December 1, 1989: Alvin Ailey dies in New York City, age 58.
December 4, 1988: One year before his death, for his contribution to American culture through the performing arts, Ailey is one of five recipients of the 1988 Kennedy Center Honors.
December 11, 2005: Autobiographical musical revue Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life opens on Broadway at the Schoenfeld Theater, and runs for 72 performances (and 20 previews); for her starring role, Rivera received a 2006 Tony Award nomination (her ninth) for Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role in a Musical.
December 14, 1917: Emmy Award–winning choreographer June Taylor, founder of the June Taylor Dancers—best known for their kaleidoscopic opening numbers on The Jackie Gleason Show—is born in Chicago, Illinois. From 1978 to 1990, Taylor also choreographed what the Associated Press, in Taylor’s 2004 obituary, called the “Broadway-type [halftime] routines” of the Dolphin Starbrites, the Miami Dolphins’ cheerleading squad.
December 14, 1977: Saturday Night Fever, the disco film classic starring John Travolta as dancer Tony Manero, has its Hollywood premiere; it opens in general distribution two days later.
December 16, 1993: Ill-fated Broadway musical The Red Shoes, based on the acclaimed 1948 dance film of the same name, opens at the George Gershwin Theatre after 51 previews; it closes three days later after only five performances.
December 24, 1944: On Christmas Eve, San Francisco Ballet—under the direction of Willam Christensen—performs the first complete version of Nutcracker ever staged in the U.S.; four years earlier, Christensen and the company (then called San Francisco Opera Ballet) had presented the first American full-length production of Swan Lake.