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Frank Hatchett

Frank Hatchett (December 7, 1935 – December 23, 2013)

Frank Hatchett, who died on Monday at Springfield’s Baystate Medical Center at the age of 78, was the master of the jazz dance.

From the Dunbar Community Center in the city’s Mason Square neighborhood where he honed his skills, to New York’s Broadway Dance Center which he founded in 1985, Hatchett’s influence on a generation of American jazz dancers is matchless.

Hatchett helped stars like Madonna, Janet Jackson and Jennifer Lopez develop their moves, and is mentioned in the same breath as iconic choreographers Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins. But his legacy may be just as long-lasting in Springfield where former students are passing it on to a new generation of dancers.

His students at the Dunbar were perhaps the first to learn his signature move, the “VOP, which was once described as a “verbal incarnation of a feeling” and another time as a “sort of rib cage-should-hip grind.”Hatchett once explained it this way: “It is the art of being the best of both worlds – it’s our obligation to feel the music – to ride the music.

Local dancers, who took lessons from him in a second-floor studio in the Dunbar, recalled Hatchett’s influence on their lives and careers last week. “His legacy was allowing everyone and anyone to know that the art world is open to them,” said Kimberly Norrington, owner of Kim’s Dance Studio.

Hatchett’s passing was also noted with sorrow on the Broadway Dance Center’s webpage: “His passion for teaching and love of dance touched the lives of countless artists both in NYC and worldwide. Frank will be deeply missed, but never forgotten, as his spirit will live on in our studios and inspire future dancers one “VOP” at a time.”

A memorial service for Hatchett will be held on Jan. 3 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Progressive Community Baptist Church on State Street.

We join his family, friends and the dancers he influenced in mourning the passing of this legendary artist and Springfield son.

Obituary (from The Republican Newsroom, Dec. 28, 2013)

DVD Titles by Frank Hatchett

Order #
BR35D The Competitive Edge DVD
Frank Hatchett