Between the specialty dancers who originated routines from the raw material
of their own talent and the pioneer choreographers who viewed movement as
expression for communication, stand the dance directors of early musical
comedy and revue.
Excerpted from "Hoofing on Broadway" by Richard
The majority of dance directors subscribed to the notion that precision dancing
constituted the right and proper action within the chorus line formation.
Whether performed on taps or toe, the precision dance routines demanded an
undeviating execution of steps and the willing subordination of the individual
personality to the homogeneous look of the chorus line. Since audiences responded
best to machine-like uniformity in performance, the dance directors relied
on simple steps within a kaleidoscopic array of geometric patterns.
The tradition of precision dance in American show business began in about
1910 with a fad for the unison marches and folk dances that first appeared
in the amateur shows of a wealthy English manufacturer named John Tiller.
Tiller's chorus of beautiful dancers popularized the "Tiller Line" -- the
classic applause-getting kickline finale.
In America, Oscar Hammerstien I imported a troupe of "Tiller Girls" for
productions at the Olympia Theatre, as did producers like Charles Frohman,
George White, Charles Dillingham and Florenz Ziegfeld. Eventually, American
dance directors entered the field and assembled their own troupes for the