Robert Cohan

(b. 1925)

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(b New York, 27 Mar. 1925)

US dancer, choreographer, teacher, and company director. One of the most influential figures in the development of modern dance in Britain through his directorship of London Contemporary Dance Theatre, the first Graham-based company in Europe. Following service in the US Navy during the Second World War, he studied dance with Martha Graham and joined her company in 1946, staying for ten years and becoming one of her regular partners, as well as teaching at the Graham school. He also worked in the theatre, on Broadway, and in films, and ran his own company (1958–62). In 1962 he returned to the Graham company and in 1966 he became co-director. He additionally worked as choreographer for the Batsheva Dance Company (1964–5). In 1967 he left New York to run the newly established London School of Contemporary Dance, which led to the creation in 1969 of London Contemporary Dance Theatre. For the next twenty years he made numerous works for LCDT, among them Cell (mus. Ronald Lloyd, 1969), Stages (mus. A. Nordheim and B. Downes, 1971), People Alone (mus. Downes, 1972), Mass (mus. Vladimir Rodzianko, 1973, revived 1977 with mus. J. Weir), Waterless Method of Swimming Instruction (mus. Downes, 1974), Stabat Mater (mus. Vivaldi, 1975, revived by Rambert Dance Company, 1995), Class (mus. John Keliehor, 1975), Forest (mus. Brian Hodgson, 1977), Songs, Lamentations and Praises (mus. G. Burgon, 1979), Field (mus. Hodgson, 1980), Dances of Love and Death (mus. Carl Davis and Conlon Nancarrow, 1981), The Phantasmagoria (mus. Barrington Pheloung, 1987), In Memory (mus. Henze, 1989), and Metamorphosis (mus. Britten, 1989). His choreography, much influenced by Graham, was noted for its theatrical imagination and visual flair. After stepping down from LCDT in 1988 (although he returned in an advisory capacity 1992–4) Cohan worked with Scottish Ballet, for whom he choreographed A Midsummer Night's Dream (mus. Pheloung, Mendelssohn, 1993) The Four Seasons (mus. Vivaldi, 1996) and Aladdin (mus. C. Davis, 2000). He has taught extensively in the US and also worked as a lighting designer, using the name of Charter.

Subjects: Dance.

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