KC's Billie Mahoney Gets Legacy Award
Dancers Over 40
One of six women to get this award
Left to right, Legacy award recipients in boldface: Emcee Carol Channing (impersonator Richard Skipper),
Marge Beddow, Marge Champion, Nicole Barth, DO40 President John Sefakis, Gemze de Lappé and Billie Mahoney.
Note: Marge Beddow died January 3, 2010 - http://www.dancersover40.org/andros-beddow.htm
A fair share of the history of dance in the US, Broadway in particular, was seated in Swing 46, at 349 West 46th St in New York City for (DO40) Dancers Over 40's first ever Legacy Awards given to six women, Marge Beddow, Marge Champion, Nicole Barth, Gemze de Lappé and Billie Mahoney. The original announcement listed five women. One more was added at the ceremony, Zoe Dell Nutter, a dancer who was also an early aviation pioneer.
Of the initial five, all but Billie live in New York City. Billie came from Kansas City to New York City where she lived and worked for several decades, then returned to Kansas City in the early 1990s to care for her mother, now gone. Billie returns to New York City on a regular basis.
When DO40's president, John Sefakis and the Dancers Over 40 committee were working on a list of names they also wanted one of their number not residing in NYC. Billie's name was an immediate choice.
Sefakis explained the award as an outgrowth of the organization's work. "We have a legacy project where we are interviewing all of our members' and where they can then post written transcripts and put those materials in the Lincoln Center Library as well as video tapes of DO40 events.
"So all those things together made us think it is about time we did something else as far as legacy and we needed to honor our own."
And so, on a rainy New York Sunday afternoon 130 members of Dancers Over 40 crammed into Swing 46 restaurant to talk, enjoy a meal (choice of chicken, salmon or vegetarian pasta), and listen to speeches by friends of each award recipient.
Well known faces were in the crowd, expressive faces, animated in conversation moved between tables and booths, sitting at each for a while or just sitting, all exchanging greetings. The atmosphere was at once familiar, respectful, and high end.
Early at Swing 46, Luigi (Greek fisherman cap) being helped in.
http://www.swing46.com - Just getting into the jazz and swing club was tough. For whatever reason the proprietress demanded that all coats had to be chaecked. As a result, the tiny bottleneck of an entrance area became a log jam. The hat and coat check station is at the top of a set of stairs just off the entrance foyer, which was a crowded two lane width at best. The stairs also led to the only bathrooms in the place.
As the start time grew closer, the members of Dancers Over 40, many of them elderly and some of them frail, became lined up down the block. After the event getting out became the same problem because everyone had to collect their coats and hats. The schedule called for a 2 pm to 5 pm time frame. Some of us got there by 1:30 and we didn't get out until 6:30 pm.
Once inside the seating was in the back room, over the superb dance floor which on other nights has swing instruction and avid swing dancers. A place to come to if you are in the city and want to dance. Check their website for information and schedules.
Left to right: Luigi, Gemze de Lappé, Billie Mahoney and John Sefakis. Luigi clasps hands with Billie after delivering an address on her behalf.
Luigi - (Eugene Louis Facciuto) - THE Luigi was there as a member and to give speeches for two of the recipients, Billie Mahoney and Marge Beddow. What can you say? Jaunty Greek Fisherman's cap on his head he was not seeing as well and not hearing as well but he was as energized as ever. You couldn't miss-identify him. Jon Hutcheson stood ready to stand in for Luigi if he couldn't do the job but Luigi was a perfect speaker. Helped to the stand he gave clear praises for both Marge and Billie.
Luigi is famous for his approach to a terribly crippling automobile accident in the 1950s which might have been the end of a promising dance career. Luigi innovated by creating a new jazz-dance style based on his one exercises designed by him to get around the physical handicaps caused by his injuries and with it the world's first complete technique for learning jazz dance. Gene Kelly gave him the "Luigi" moniker. (http://www.luigijazz.com - Luigi's Jazz Centre, The First World Jazz Center, 48 West 68th Street, New York, NY 10023, (212) 874-6215 at Studio Maestro )
Billie Mahoney, talking to Luigi (left) and Iva Withers (right, the original Nellie Forbush on Broadway in South Pacific).
Billie Mahoney with cake and Legacy award
Each recipient had persons speaking about her and SO40 president John Sefakis had something in particular to say about each person in turn. At the start of the ceremony John Sefakis read a letter from fellow member Valerie Harper addressing each of the recipients specifically. For Billie Mahoney Harper wrote of the long-running New York television interview show, Dance On, with Billie Mahoney.
- The speakers were
- Ron Young and Gene Bayliss for Nicole Barth
- Larry Stevens and Luigi for Billie Mahoney
- Daughter Pam Saunders and Luigi for Marge Beddow
- Harvey Evans and Sondra Lee for Marge Champion
- John Sefakis added Zoe Dell Lantis Nutter and spoke about her
- Dennis Cole and Ricci Adan for Gemze de Lappé
Entring Swing 46 with the small posting for the Legacy Awards.
Early arrivals at Swing 64 - L-R: Marge Beddow, Francis J. Roach, Nicole Barth, Luigi, Billie Mahoney, Iva Withers
DO40 President John Sefakis presents the Legacy award to Billie Mahoney. (Gemze de Lappé in front)
Billie Mahoney and Carol Channing (Richard Skipper)
Nicole English and Iva Withers
Recipient: Gemze de Lappé
Recipient: Marge Beddow
Gone already, 3 January 2010
Dennis Cole - Speaker
Recipient: Marge Champion
Pam Beddow Saunders - Speaker
Recipient: Nicole Barth
Larry Stevens - Speaker
John Sefakis - Speaker/Pres.
Harvey Evans- Speaker
Gene Bayliss - Speaker
Ricci Adan - Speaker
Emcee Richard Skipper as Carol Channing
Ron Young - Speaker
Sondra Lee - Speaker
Other Links and Resources for persons mentioned, shown or just there:
- http://www.dancersover40.org - Dancers Over 40 organization (members)
http://www.youtube.com/dancersover40 - DO40 on YouTube
- http://www.luigijazz.com - Eugene Louis Facciuto (aka "Luigi")
- http://www.swing46.com - Swing 64 Jazz and Swing Club - Restuaruant, bar and grill
- http://www.richardskipper.com - Emcee "Carol Channing"
- Iva Withers - 60th Anniversary of South Pacific, at NYT, bw, photo 1950 with Richard Rogers
- Larry Stevens (Billie's first introducer) Bio
- Marge Champion on WikiPedia
- http://www.margerybeddow.com - in seven Bob Fosse musicals, author "Bob Fosse's Broadway" (link to Amazon) - Died 3 Jan 10 - Memorial page at DO40: http://www.dancersover40.org/andros-beddow.htm
- Gemze de Lappe - at IMDB, WikiPedia
- Nicole Barth - at IMDB, at IBDB
- Gene Bayliss - http://genebayliss.com
- Sondra Lee - I've Slept With Everybody: A Memoir (Amazon link)
Billie Mahoney - November 23, 1927 - January 31, 2022, age 94
Union Station, Nov 19, 2016
Dance On from 2011
National Tap Dance Day 2014
At Union Station for Armed Forces Day 17 May 2014
National Tap Dance Day at The Arts Bar 25 May 2013
Tap Jam at the Arts Bar 7 Feb 2013
Tap Jam at The Arts Bar 2 Aug 2012
Legacy Award from Dancers Over 40 in NYC
Senior Quest 2009
Senior Quest 2008
Billie Mahoney Dance Troupe 2007 preperatory to NYC trip
Tap Dance Day May 25, 2000
Kansas City Dance - KCDance.Com
Photos by Mike Strong, Copyright © 2023 Mike Strong All rights reserved