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Fri, 08.06.1948

Michael Peters, Choreographer born

Michael Peters

*Michael Peters was born on this date in 1948.  He was a Black dancer and choreographer best known for his work in music videos.

A Brooklyn native, Peters was the son of a Black father and a white Jewish mother.  He worked with modern-dance choreographers and company directors in the 1960s and 70s, including Talley Beatty, Alvin Ailey, Bernice Johnson, and Fred Benjamin.  Peters choreographed Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" in 1975.  He also created dances for the concert stage before his first breakthrough in theater in 1979 in the Broadway musical "Comin' Uptown," an all-Black version of Dickens's "Christmas Carol," which starred Gregory Hines.  In 1985, he directed his first Broadway musical, "Leader of the Pack."

Peters went on to stage other memorable dance sequences for music videos, including Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield" (in which he has a brief cameo) and Lionel Richie's "Hello" (in which he appeared as the dance instructor of Richie's blind love interest).  He would also choreograph the videos to the title track of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” LP and “Beat It” from the same album.  In the latter, Peters co-stars as one of two gang leaders who prepare for a dramatic showdown/knife fight, which is averted at the last moment. Peters is dressed all in white and wears sunglasses during the piece.

In addition, he choreographed Diana Ross' July 1983 Central Park concert, "For One & For All," during which he dances with Ross during her "Maniac" and "Pieces of Ice" numbers. Peters also appeared in Richie's video, "Running With The Night." Peters is also widely credited for the striking transformation of actress Angela Bassett into Tina Turner in the 1993 biopic, “What's Love Got to Do with It.”  In 1982, he shared a Tony Award with Michael Bennett for Best Choreography for their work on the Broadway musical, “Dreamgirls.”

Michael Peters died of HIV/AIDS on August 29, 1994, in Los Angeles, at 46.

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