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Gregory Hines by Jevan



Gregory Hines was an American dancer, actor, choreographer and singer, he is thought to be one of the most talented tap dancers of all time.


He was born Gregory Oliver Hines on February 14th 1946 in New York City to Alma and Maurice Hines, his father Maurice was a dancer, musician and actor. Growing up in the Sugar Hill neighbourhood of Manhattans Harlem. He began dancing tap at the age of Two, dancing semi professionally at the age of Five, performing with his older brother Maurice, together they studied choreography under Henry LeTang, also studying with tap dancers Howard Sims and the Nicholas Brothers, who they went on to perform at some of the same venues, under the name ‘The Hines Kids’ , they later became known as ‘The Hines Brothers’ , later their father joined them as their drummer, and they became known as ‘Hines, Hines and Dad’ in 1963.


Gregory Hines was a laid back tap dancer, a tap historian (Sally Somner) once wrote ‘He purposely obliterated the tempos, throwing down a cascade of taps like pebbles tossed across the floor’


An advocate for tap in America, Hines successfully petitioned the creation of ‘National Tap Dance Day’ in May 1989, which is now celebrated in 40 cities in America, as well as 8 other nations. Hines was on the board of directors of Manhattan Tap, the Jazz Tap Ensemble and a member of the American Tap Dance Foundation.


In 1989 Hines hosted ‘Gregory Hines Tap Dance America’ featuring dancers Savion Glover and Bunny Biggs’.


Gregory Hines idol was his former co-star Sammy Davis jr, Hines has spoken of the honour that Sammy  thought Hines could carry on from where he (Sammy Davis Jr) had left off.


Hines made his Broadway debut with his brother in ‘The Girl in Pink Tights’ in 1954.  He was nominated for the Tony Award for ‘Eubie’ in 1979, ‘Comin Uptown’ in 1980 and ‘Sophisticated Ladies’ in 1981. Winning the Tony Award in 1992 for ‘Jelly’s last jam.


Hines also performed as a lead singer in a rock band called ‘Severance’ in 1975, 1976, releasing an album in 1976 (self titled).


Hines made his movie debut in 1981 in a Mel Brooks film ‘History of the world part 1’. 

Hines’s peak as an actor came in the mid 80’s having a large role in ‘The Cotton Club’ where he and his brother Maurice played 1930’s Tap dancing duo. 


Hines costarred with Mikhail Baryshnikov in the film ‘White Nights’ in 1985, which in my opinion has one of the greatest dance scenes of all time.


Hines filmed around 40 movies during his career, he was nominated and won many awards throughout his career, including Tony awards, Emmys for best choreography and best performance. 


In his personal life Hines married and divorced, having Two children and a grandson. 


Hines sadly died on August 9th 2003 of liver cancer at the age of 51, leaving behind him a outstanding legacy of tap.


By Jevan Ciccone.