From Library Journal
This is more than a factual biography of a great artist; it is a personal encounter with an exceptional man whose winning personality shines through on every page. The story of Cholly Atkins is that of 20th-century American jazz and tap dance. As a dancer, he teamed with Honi Coles and appeared with Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and others across the country; his anecdotes about these experiences offer a keen perspective on the performing life. A versatile artist, Atkins developed "vocal choreography" specially tailored rhythmic dance routines based upon steps used by African American chorus lines of the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties. It resulted in a successful Motown career and in his role choreographing the signature moves of such groups as the Pips and the Supremes. Later, he earned a Tony award for his choreography for the Broadway show Black and Blue. His personal heartaches and struggles are addressed honestly, and his triumphs over them are inspiring. Written by the 87-year-old Atkins and Malone (drama, theater, and dance, Queens Coll.), this book resonates with charm and provides solid information about the history of American jazz dance. For entertainment collections. Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Cholly is one of the true icons of American culture--an original hoofer. He took social and street dances of the time and combined them with style and class, introducing a new dance genre, vocal choreography. Weaving rhythm and groove seamlessly, he created dance with flair while allowing several generations of young people to stand on his shoulders. Pops put a little dip in their hip and a little slide in their glide. He is a serious legend and one of the finest human beings I've even known. The legacy of Cholly Atkins is one that will be with us forever. We are blessed to have been touched by his magic.
He's the wellspring from whence we flow.... [He] understands the way that the human body moves, he understands the grace of dance.
(Melvin Franklin, original member of the Temptations)
His choreography is so unique, it's just like a Rolls Royce among a whole lot of Yugos. He's classic, man.
(Otis Williams, member of the Temptations)
Cholly Atkins was our everything.... He taught us how to walk onstage, how to walk offstage, how to move.
As Class Act makes clear, professional tappers formed an elite brotherhood, a society of proud, resolute strivers with no shortage of dignity, talent or wisdom. We should be grateful to Cholly Atkins for generously sharing his with us.
(International Herald Tribune
To have Atkins' memories preserved is to have an immense contribution to nearly a century of American popular song and dance acknowledged, and in his own lifetime. Motown may have been just a stopover in this storied life, but we, and the company, were lucky to have him.
(Terry Lawson Detroit Free Press
A personal encounter with an exceptional man whose winning personality shines through on every page...provides solid information about the history of American jazz dance.
(Carol J. Binkowski Library Journal (starred review)
Without having first read Class Act... you may be half-informed at best about the evolution over the past century of black dance rhythms and the importance of vernacular choreography.
Class Act chronicles Atkins' amazing career, from his entry into New York City's dance world to his performing triumphs and personal tragedies to the career transformations that won him gold records and a Tony award. Anyone interested in tap dancing and/or the history of rock and roll will enjoy this book.