Master Class: Luigi Jazz Technique

On Thursday, January 28, from 5-7pm, the non-profit Gulfcoast Dance will be hosting a Master Class on the Luigi Jazz Technique, taught by Francis J. Roach. The Master Class fee is $35.

Francis Roach has been with the Luigi Jazz Centre for over 20 years. He too has traveled the world teaching the Luigi technique. This is the first time that he has been to this part of Florida to teach.

Francis J. Roach has danced in TV and Broadway specials, choreographed MTV videos, Off-Broadway, national commercials, industrials, and fashion shows. He’s appeared with Liza Minnelli, Shirley MacLaine, Gene Kelly, the Pointer Sisters & choreographed a magazine layout for Charlotte D’Amboise. Francis travels the world teaching the Luigi Jazz Technique. In addition, he teaches at the Joffrey Ballet School, the West Side “Y,” and has been faculty for the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS. Not only has he starred in his own concert tour in Japan, but has been invited back over 10 times to teach and choreograph. Francis Roach co-authored with Luigi and Lorraine Person Kriegel the book, Luigi’s Jazz Warm-up.

A Short Explanation of the All American Luigi Jazz Technigue:

The Luigi Jazz Technique is as American as Luigi himself or an MGM movie or a Broadway musical.

Luigi comes from the heartland of America: Stuebenville, Ohio. He was born Eugene Louis Faccuito. His God given talents as an entertainer and singer were recognized early in childhood. After serving in WWII, he moved to Hollywood to pursue a movie career.

After only months in Holywood, tragedy struck. A serious automobile accident left Luigi with a basal skull fracture and paralysis down one side of his body. Doctors told him it was not likely that he would walk again. His spirit said, “I am going to dance.” And he did.

Not right away. But he did.

We all experience tragedy, it is how we handle it that matters most. Luigi trained himself to walk again and then to dance. In the process he learned how to work with his body in a healthy and sustainable way. He learned how to move and never stop moving. The process that came out of tragedy would be the mainstay of a life long career of helping others to use their bodies in graceful even “movie star elegant” ways.

Eugene Faccuito went on to a Hollywood film career spanning more than 40 films. Gene Kelly recognized his special talents, hired him to work on many films and gave him his professional nickname, “Luigi”. While this seems an exotic name for a guy from Ohio, it too was born out of very practical circumstances. Gene Kelly said, “We can’t have two Genes on the set. We will have to call you Luigi.”

It was while on the sets of those many MGM musicals that his warm up technique and his ability to help injured dancers were discovered. It spawned the many requests that he teach his techniques. He opened his first official Jazz Class in LA in 1951. By 1956, his abilities brought him to New York City to perform in the Broadway Musical Happy Hunting with Ethel Merman. He continued to dance and assist choreographers on Broadway and eventually opened his school. The First World Jazz Centre where professionals and people from all professions have come to learn.

Luigi has traveled the world teaching his technique and continues to teach six days a week in New York City at the age of 83.

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