Last night, Eugene Louis Faccuito passed away. You know him as jazz legend Luigi (DT’s 2003 lifetime achievement awardee), creator of the hugely popular warm-up technique that bears his nickname. He had just turned 90. Right-hand man Francis Roach reports that Luigi will be buried in his hometown of Steubenville, OH, and that a memorial celebration will be announced soon.
His story is one of incredible perseverance: Shortly after deciding to pursue a performance career, Luigi was in a horrific car accident which left him partially paralyzed. Despite being told by doctors that he might never walk again, he went on to develop a set of specific exercises designed to lengthen and control his body—and eventually he enjoyed a fruitful career as a dancer and choreographer in Hollywood. Dancers soon began joining in the warm-up exercises Luigi would do during film breaks to stay limber, and his definitive technique and style—full of luscious épaulement and with a focus on proper alignment and organic sequencing—soon became his hallmark. After moving to New York City in 1956, Luigi opened a school, Luigi’s Jazz Centre. The school, under Roach’s supervision, will continue—just as Luigi, whose motto was “Never stop moving,” would’ve wanted.
Luigi’s extensive list of students includes Liza Minnelli, Ann Reinking, Ben Vereen, Twyla Tharp, Susan Stroman, Jacques d’Amboise, Valerie Harper, Robert Alton, Carol Chaney, Alvin Ailey, Donna McKechnie and Goldie Hawn.
Photo by Lucas Chilczuk, courtesy of Dance Magazine