(b Brooklyn, NY, 10 Jan. 1929)
US dancer, choreographer, designer, writer, actor, artist, and teacher. He studied art at Straubenmuller Textile High School in New York and fine arts at Cooper Union in New York, graduating in 1949. He studied dance at the New Dance Group Studio and at the Juilliard School with Tudor and Craske. He began dancing and teaching in 1949 and from 1950 to 1961 was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, performing as well as designing costumes and posters. For Cunningham he created roles in Suite for Five in Space and Time (1956), Antic Meet (1958), and Aeon (1961). He also danced with Charles Weidman, Jean Erdman, and Donald McKayle. While with Cunningham, he also worked as director and performer with the Living Theater company and in 1958 co-founded the Paper Bag Players, a children's theatre in New York. From 1964 to 1970 he worked as choreographer, designer, performer, and director with the Judson Dance Theater after which he wrote and directed two plays, Biography (1970) and Secrets (1971), as director of the National Theater of the Deaf. In 1977 he founded his own company for which he created many works while additionally choreographing for London Contemporary Dance Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet among others. As a choreographer his work displays an unusual rhythmic sophistication and a highly developed sense of fun, with sign language frequently incorporated into the choreography. In 1972 Charlip initiated his ‘air mail dances’, a series in which he sent out sketches of 20–40 dance positions which he then invited contributors to link together in whatever way they chose. The resulting dances, performed by up to 250 people, were staged in Europe, S. America, Australia, and America. Charlip, a prolific author as well as choreographer, has illustrated and written more than two dozen books, some of them for children. His art works have been exhibited in France, Russia, Japan, and the US.