Clarence 'Buddy' Bradley
Buddy grew up in Harrisburg,
PA and was primarily a self taught dancer, picking up the dances
of the day, he became very good. Buddy's Father died when he was
just a child and was raised by his religious mother, but by the
age of fourteen his mother had passed away which led Buddy to
Utica, New York where he stayed at Mrs. Douglas 133rd St. Boarding
House temporarily working as a hotel busboy. This Boarding House
is where Buddy would get his calling to entertain as the House
was full of entertainers and show people. Bradley would practice
his steps in a back alley near Connie's Inn, unknowingly honing
Buddy's first professional
job as a dancer was at the Kentucky Club and Connie's Inn (Uptown)
when his friend Thaddeus Drayton recommended him to Leonard Harper
who was producing the shows at these clubs. Harper needed Chorus
Boys and hired him on the spot, where he remained at Connie's
Inn, learning his skills for over a year, becoming one of the
best young dancers of Harlem.
to dance when he turned eighteen he made his solo debut as a dancer
in the Florence
Mills Revue in New York. In 1928, Buddy met Billy Pierce,
who wanted to start a dance studio for white stars, such as Fred
Astaire, Lucille Ball, Mae West, and Eleanor Powell and more.
Buddy was hired to teach them the popular dances of the day. Bradley
met and was hired to coach Irene Delroy in a dance routine for
the Greenwich Follies of 1928 at the Imperial Theatre. This would
prove to be his big break as Irene was a hit with the show and
the producer of the show Morris Green asked Bradley to re choreograph
the entire production, however Busby Berkley would get the credit.
Bradley gives credit to dancer
and stage performer Eddie
Rector, and claims Rector as Buddy's mentor and idol. Buddy
was not the best solo dancer but his choreography during this
time period was amazing. He had a great talent for translating
the accents of improvising jazz soloists into dance patterns that
were new to Broadway as well as an eye for designing dance steps
to fit the individual dancers personality. Bradley generally ignored
the melody and followed the soloists to get a fresh rhythmic pattern
to his steps. He was so good in fact that he would go on to either
fix or stage many dances for many Broadway Stage revues such as
"Ziegfeld Follies," George White "Scandals,"
"Earl Carroll's Revues" and Lew Leslies "Blackbirds"
during the nineteen-twenties and thirties, however because of
his color he never got credit while in the USA.
In 1933 Buddy was hired by
Charles Cochran (The Ziegfeld of England) and went to
London to Stage the shows on the Rodgers and Hart musical "Evergreen."
It was the first time a black dancer had choreographed and Staged
an all white show. Bradley made many trips back and forth from
England to the States, but eventually made his home in England
were he taught, Staged and Choreographed for many Stage, Film
and TV Shows well into the 1960s. When Buddy left the states,
Pierce replaced Buddy with Herbie Holder. Frank Harrington and
Roland Holder were assistants to Bradley.
Buddy would join forces on many projects with
many well known dance stars such as George
Balanchine, Anton Dolin and Vera
Zorina, Massine, Frederick Ashton and Markova for Sadler Wells.
Basically Buddy was the best kept secret in dance choreography.
Buddy passed away in 1972 in New York, New York.