#TBT: Luigi Redefined Jazz Technique—But His Career Almost Never Happened

April 1, 2020

The technique developed by the legendary Luigi has become inextricable from jazz dance. But it was born from a career that almost never was: In 1946, at 21, the dancer was left comatose and partially paralyzed in the wake of a car accident, two months to the day after his discharge from the U.S. Navy. It was doubtful he would walk again, but three years later he danced in his first Hollywood film—and began developing and adapting the exercises that would form the basis of his technique.

Luigi (who was born Eugene Louis Faccuito but went by the nickname given to him by Gene Kelly while filming On the Town) spent a lifetime imparting his knowledge. “I want to know who you are as a human being,” he told us in the April 1991 issue of Dance Magazine. “I don’t sit at home and plan an artificial feeling for the class. I use the life around me at the moment—the students in the class—and whatever they present to me. What you are at the moment is important to me. There is enough life experience in me to be able to call upon what is needed.”

He received a Dance Magazine Award in 2014 and passed away the following April, just a few weeks after his 95th birthday.