100 Dance Treasures

Gregory Hines Menu

Gregory Hines, Photo by Martha Swope Pictured: Gregory Hines's performance in Sophisticated Ladies (1981), a musical celebration of Duke Ellington, was among his most critically-acclaimed and iconic Broadway roles. (Photograph by Martha Swope.)

The dancing toddler Gregory Hines (1946-2003) turned professional at five, appearing with his brother Maurice as The Hines Kids. With drummer Maurice Sr., the act became Hines, Hines and Dad. Trained by the venerable tap master Henry Le Tang, Hines toured for more than two decades, polishing an Afro-Cuban technique that emphasizes hard accents and slides. Eventually, he returned to his native New York and was seen on Broadway in Eubie (1978), Comin' Uptown (1979), Sophisticated Ladies (1981), and Jelly's Last Jam (1992), for which he won a Tony award as Best Actor in a Musical. Hines was in the television special "Motown Returns to the Apollo." He hosted Showtime's Dance of the Decade series and was a guest star for "Tap Dance in America" on PBS, as well as for the first of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories. Credited with revitalizing tap in the 1980s, Hines's dance films include The Cotton Club (1984), White Nights (1985) with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Tap (1988), and Bojangles (2001). As an actor Hines made numerous television appearances and performed in more than a dozen films.

Learn more in Gregory Hines, an essay by Constance Valis Hill.

Gregory Hines's performance in the "challenge dance" in Tap (1988) demonstrates
his continued engagement with tap traditions, which formed a basis for his innovative "improvography."

Gregory Hines in The Cotton Club, 1984 Pictured: Gregory Hines made a successful transition from stage to film, for instance in Francis Ford Coppola's dance-heavy period crime drama, The Cotton Club (1984). (Photofest.)