Breaking Stereotypes
Pat Birch on the set of Grease, choreographing the legendary Hand Jive scene, with Olivia Newton John and John Travolta. Photo courtesy Birch

Forty years ago, the movie musical Grease introduced audiences around the world to Grease lightning and an iconic hand jive. Would anyone guess now that all those unforgettable rock-n'-roll style dances were choreographed by a former Martha Graham Dance Company soloist? (Was John Travolta actually in a contraction?)

Choreographer Patricia Birch, better known as Pat, says "I was always attracted to Broadway, even when I was dancing with Martha."

After Grease's sensational success, Birch continued choreographing and directing, working nonstop for five decades and counting. She directed and choreographed numerous Broadway productions (Candide, A Little Night Music), was resident choreographer for the first six years of Saturday Night Live, choreographed HBO's Boardwalk Empire, and is currently working on touring her musical production, Orphan Train.

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