History of José Greco
Costanzo Greco Bucci (José Greco) was born on December 23, 1918 in Montorio-nei-Frentani, Molise, Italy. At the age of 10, José's family moved to Brooklyn, New York where he was raised. José was studying painting, however, dance caught his eye when he accompanied his sister to her dance classes. He demonstrated a quick sense for learning footwork and was immediately placed on scholarship in Madame Helen Veola's school. At age16, José debuted in the opera La Traviata at the Hippodrome in Manhattan, dancing in the party scene. His career took off from there.
During his early 20s, José danced in cabarets. The famous La Argentinita noted his talent and asked him to partner her in 1942. Their partnership lasted until Argentinita's premature death in 1945, after which José toured throughout Europe with Pilar Lopez, Argentinita's sister.
In 1946, José formed his own company, The José Greco Company of Dancers, Singers, and Musicians that toured Europe for nearly 6 years. He also performed in his first film, Brindis a Manolete, which caught the attention of the owner of the Shubert Theatres. The Shubert organization brought José and his company to the U.S. Different from all other dance companies previously presented at the Shubert Theatres, José's company was tremendously successful. Greco was named “New Broadway Personality of the Year” together with Carol Channing in 1952.
For the next 20-plus years, Greco's company would complete more than 40 U.S. and 6 world tours. The Company recorded 10 albums and continuously appeared on television in such shows as the Ed Sullivan Show, the Johnny Carson Show, on Bob Hope's specials, and the Walt Disney Hour. Greco's career spanned other media. He played roles in films that include Ship of Fools and Around the World in 80 Days, and toured throughout the U.S. in the role of Dracula in Bram Stoker's The Passion of Dracula in 1978. Greco rose to such a level of popularity that he was named one of Vogue's World's 50 Sexiest Men.
Other awards and accolades include being knighted and awarded La Gran Cruz Laureada del M³rito Civil by the Spanish government, receiving four honorary doctorates, and being awarded the NOSOTROS Golden Eagle. He was further honored when in 1988, the New York City Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center requested that Greco donate all of his personal and professional papers as well as other items in order to create a special collection in its archives dedicated to him. Greco received a choreographer's fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1993. With this fellowship, Greco worked on re-staging his more famous choreographies and archiving them through labnotation.
At the end of the 1970s, in his early 60's, Greco decided to retire from the stage. However, a few years later Greco saw three of his children, Carmela, Lola, and José II, dance, and realized he had no option but to create a new company: José Greco: The Second Generation. The Company performed to sold-out audiences at the Joyce Theatre in New York City for two seasons. In 1991, Greco led the Company on a nationwide tour and continued working with the Company until 1995, when he stopped performing at the age of 77.
Beginning in 1993, Greco held the title of Visiting Professor of Dance at Franklin and Marshall College, where he taught up until two months prior to his death. He received additional fellowships to choreograph new works and lectured on Spanish dance throughout the world from The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the Arizona State University to the Center for Islamic Art and Culture in Istanbul, Turkey.
José Greco passed away in his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on December 31, 2000 at the age of 82.