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CHOLLY ATKINS

LEGACY

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Born Charles Sylvan Atkinson, a native of Pratt City, Alabama, Atkins first found fame as one-half of a top vaudeville tap dancing act with partner Charles Honi Coles. After working as a freelance choreographer for The Miracles, Atkins was hired by Berry Gordy to work as a Motown choreographer in 1964, and set about developing the routines that would later become the trademark moves of other Motown acts like The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & The Pips and others. Atkins would, in fact, continue working with Motown artists well into the 1980s. He choreographed for non-Motown artists as well, namely the dance routines of The Cadillacs in the 1950s, and the Sylvers and The O’Jays during the mid-1970s.

In 1989, Atkins received a Tony Award for choreographing the Broadway show Black and Blue. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2003, Atkins died of the cancer several weeks later on April 19, 2003 Las Vegas, Nevada at 89.