Eugene Louis Faccuito

Eugene Louis Faccuito
Born Eugene Louis Facciuto
(1925-03-20)March 20, 1925
Steubenville, Ohio, U.S.
Died April 7, 2015(2015-04-07) (aged 90)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor, choreographer, dancer, director, teacher

Eugene Louis "Luigi" Facciuto (March 20, 1925 – April 7, 2015) was an American jazz dancer, choreographer, teacher and innovator who is best known for creating a jazz exercise technique. The Luigi Warm Up Technique is an influential training program that promotes body alignment, balance, core strength, and "feeling from the inside."[1] It is also used for rehabilitation. This method became the world's first standard technique for teaching jazz and musical theater dance.

Facciuto developed the technique, which consists of a series of ballet-based exercises, for his own rehabilitation after suffering paralyzing injuries in a car accident at the age of twenty one. Determined to dance again, he first learned to regain control of his body by what he uses as a cornerstone of his technique – namely, to “lengthen and stretch the body without strain," and “put the good side into the bad side.’’ He then focused on a way “to stabilize himself – as if he were pressing down on an invisible (dance) barre.[2] His efforts paid off because he went on to have a successful dance career, and became a world-renowned jazz teacher.[3][4]

Early life and career

Born in Steubenville, Ohio, Luigi is the eighth of eleven children of immigrant Italian parents, Nicola and Antoinette (Savoia) Facciuto. After his father died when he was five years old, Luigi's older brother Tony coached him to sing, dance and use his contortionist skills so that he could enter local talent contests to win prize money for the family. He was “a natural” performer and won many events. By the age of ten, Luigi had an agent who got him a job with entertainer Ted Lewis as the “shadow” in Lewis' famous number, "Me and My Shadow". The young boy continued on in talent competitions where he succeeded to even win the prestigious Major Bowes' The Original Amateur Hour in nearby Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Aged 13, he replaced the lead singer in the Bernie Davis Orchestra, a local twelve-man band that performed at weddings, school dances, and special events throughout the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia; the previous singer was Luigi's neighbor, Dean Martin.[5] He stayed with the band for close to five years.

Aged 18, he was drafted into the U.S. Navy during World War II. He served in the Pacific TheaterNew Guinea and the Philippines - until the war’s end. After returning home at age twenty-one, he enrolled in college to become a lawyer, but his brother Tony pushed him to study in Hollywood under the G. I. Bill of Rights to pursue a film career.

He moved to California, enrolled in his first ballet classes with Bronislava Nijinska, and studied other theatrical forms at Falcon Studios in Hollywood. Three months later, in 1946, tragedy struck in the form of a horrific car crash that left Luigi paralyzed on the right side of his body and left side of his face, and with crossed eyes and double vision. After awakening months later from a coma, he was told by doctors that he would never walk again. He said to himself, “I don't want to walk; I’m going to dance.”

New life, innovation and Hollywood career

Conventional therapy at that time did not help Luigi much.[6] To regain control of his body, he started to experiment and design his own stretches. After nine months of self therapy, he returned to Falcon Studios where he trained daily. In 1948, Luigi was hired by Horace Heidt, a popular pianist and big band leader, to choreograph for his "Bandwagon" tour. A few months later, back in Los Angeles, the three became housemates. It was then that Luigi, with Frontiere's help, coined “5, 6, 7, 8” as a lead-in for when to start dancing.[7] He started to use the phrase around other dancers.

In 1949, a talent scout discovered Luigi in a benefit show and brought him to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios to audition for On the Town. Gene Kelly was impressed by Luigi’s dancing and gave him the job despite his facial paralysis and crossed eyes. This job led to a long friendship, during which Kelly became Luigi’s mentor and used him in his other films, such as Singin' In The Rain. He warmed up using his own stretches and strengthening exercises, and soon found other performers following him. “Alton encouraged (Luigi) to take up teaching his evolving style”, so he began a late afternoon class at Rainbow Studios in 1951.[8]

Between films, Luigi also performed in professional musicals at the Greek Theatre and with the Moro Landis Dancers, mostly at The Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. While Luigi was working with Nita Bieber in an East Indian dance act promoted by M-G-M, Bieber's agent offered to represent him if he formed his own act, which he did, the Gene Louis Dancers.

New York City and career

In 1956, choreographer Alex Romero brought Luigi to New York City to perform on Broadway with Ethel Merman and Fernando Lamas in Happy Hunting. The show brought Luigi to the attention of east coast dancers, and choreographer June Taylor, who invited him to teach at her school.[9] A few months later, to better suit his schedule, he began teaching his own classes. In 1961, Luigi was one of the first teachers hired for Dance Caravan, a yearly summer dance convention troupe. This job brought his teachings and his new technique book - with his philosophy and recorded music for class - to dancers in major cities across America. He remained with the organization and became one of the long-standing teachers until its closing in 2009. In addition to his classes in New York City, dance conventions helped turn Luigi’s work into the foundation for jazz dance classes in academic institutions and studios across the United States. He found himself in demand for a wide range of projects, including teaching, choreographing, staging, and touring. He accepted an invitation from Germany to teach at an international workshop which boosted his reputation across Europe. He was invited to work in many more European countries including, England, Italy and France; began teaching master classes at the Radio City Music Hall for the performers; and joined the faculty of the Harkness Ballet School.[10]

Some of the many highlights

In addition to teaching at Dance Masters of America and Dance Educators of America’s conventions, Luigi has served as guest faculty for the High School of Performing Arts, City University of New York, Sarah Lawrence College, Renato Greco’s Stages in Rome and Amalfi, Italy, New York University, The Metropolitan Opera, Joffrey Ballet Summer School, Dennis Wayne’s Dancers Workshop in Italy, Broadway Theater Project, Studio Maestro Summer Workshop, Jacob’s Pillow, Youth Dance Festival and Dance Teacher Summit in NYC.

2000 and beyond

Since 2000, Luigi has choreographed and staged numbers for many benefit events including Michael Zaslow’s benefits for A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig’s disease) on Broadway, the Dance Library of Israel, the New York Jazz Choreography Project, Dancers Over 40 benefits for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the TranscenDance Group dance company, and the Ailey/Fordham Bachelor of Fine Arts Senior Solo Concert.[13]

Honors and awards

Luigi has been honored by dance organizations around the globe. For over fifty years, he has been featured in dance and health articles in many languages. He has been commended for his life's work by three U.S. Presidents – Reagan, Bush and Clinton. He received the “Fred Astaire Award’’ from Broadway’s Theatre Development Fund, a proclamation for Luigi Day in New York City from Mayor Ed Koch, was the grand marshal of the Dance Parade down Broadway in 2008, and an Ohio governor awarded him the “Man of the Year Award”, in his hometown.



Stage productions


  1. Luigi's Jazz Warm Up and Introduction to Jazz Style & Technique, a Dance Horizons Book, Princeton Book Company, Publishers, by Luigi, Lorraine Person Kriegel and Francis J. Roach, 1997, page 6
  2. Dance Spirit, December 2009, Luigi’s Legacy by Lauren Kay, page 60
  3. Profile,; accessed April 18, 2015.
  4. Straus, Rachel (August 2007). "Teacher's Wisdom: Luigi". Dance Magazine. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  5. Francis J. Roach and Donna Gianell. Dance Pages, Volume 4, Number 1, Summer '86, Luigi – His Life and His Movies, p. 26
  6. Masters of Movement – Portraits of America's Great Choreographers, Smithsonian Books, Washington, Publisher, Photographs and text by Rose Eichenbaum, 2004, pp. 113-115.
  7. Fusco, Mary Ann Castronovo (April 15, 2001). "IN PERSON; 'Never Stop Moving'". New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  8. Dance Teacher, January 2011, Robert Alton by Rachel Straus, p. 38
  9. Harriet R. Lihs. Appreciating Dance – Fourth Edition – A Guide to the World's Liveliest Art, a Dance Horizons Book, Princeton Book Co. (2009), page 94
  10. 1971 Harkness House brochure lists Luigi as a guest teacher
  11. The Luigi Jazz Dance Technique, Shufunotomo Co. Ltd., Tokyo , 1982,
  12. Eugene Louis Facciuto, Danza Jazz: la tecnica di Luigi, Di Giacomo Editore, Roma, 1987
  13. Angela Barbuti. "A Life of Dance", West Side Spirit, Manhattan Media LLC, March 17, 2011, p. 8

External links

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