Gregg Burge; Award-Winning Dancer, Actor
Gregg Burge, a dancer and actor whose films included “A Chorus Line” and Spike Lee’s “School Daze,” has died. He was 40.
Burge, who made his Broadway debut dancing in “The Wiz,” died July 4 in Atlanta of complications of a brain tumor, it was reported Tuesday.
Perhaps best known for his tap dancing, Burge won two Fred Astaire awards and was nominated for two Tony awards and two Drama Desk awards. He appeared in many television specials about dance, including “Gregory Hines’ Tap Dance in America” in 1989 and the television series “Dancing” during the 1992-93 season.
“God did not put me on this Earth to be a member of the chorus,” the ever-positive Burke told The Times in 1986 when he played the chorus line dancer Richie Walters and served as assistant choreographer on the film version of Broadway’s “A Chorus Line.”
Burge, a native of New York’s Long Island, started performing in commercials at age 10 and by age 16 was hired as the Scarecrow understudy, and soon the Scarecrow, in his first Broadway musical, “The Wiz.”
That landed him roles in Broadway’s “Sophisticated Ladies,” “Song and Dance” and “Oh Kay!” He also played the Easter Bunny for two years in Radio City Music Hall’s Easter show in New York City.
Burge choreographed Michael Jackson’s video “Bad” and another video for the reggae band Steel Pulse.
“From age 10, I wanted to be a song-and-dance man,” he told The Times. “But it took six years and a lot of TV commercials before the first opportunity came along.”
He did have some disappointments in his largely successful career. He was turned down for the motion picture “Fame” because, he said with amazement, “they told me I was too polished for the part.” A song-and-dance performance by Burge was cut from the Francis Ford Coppola film “The Cotton Club.”
Burge opened a dance studio on Long Island and taught there between engagements. He also performed a nightclub act.
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