Clarence E Teeters (January 13, 1954- August 9, 1988)
Clarence Teeters Jr. was born and raised in St Louis, MO. His mother, Margaret, taught elementary school while his father,Clarence Sr, worked in several different government jobs. His parents, both college graduates, enjoyed and excelled at all kinds of social dancing and their children Clarence and his younger sister Karla grew up in a house full of music (Karla is a singer) poetry, and Black history.
As a teenager, Clarence spent many hours at the YMCA, where he excelled in gymnastics, swimming and other physical programs. He attended high school at University City where he had a diverse set of friends. He loved to listen to the radio, dance, read comic books and was noted for his creative and artistic ways.
Clarence attended Northwestern University, in Evanston, IL, where he graduated with a degree in Speech Pathology. During his college career, Clarence met Gus Giordano and began his studies at the Gus Giordano Dance Center. Within a short time, began a successful career dancing with and eventually choreographing for the Giordano Jazz Dance Co. Clarence was a natural performer and a gifted mover, whose long, loose-limbed style was somehow both wild and free, yet at the same time, articulate, lyrical and precise.
Clarence’s own dance works contained a unique combination of styles including classic jazz, early funk dances, ballet and often theatrical, character driven elements. Along with his Giordano classic jazz training, he continued to study in NYC with Michael Shawn and Betsy Haug. His choreography is described as extremely musical, suited for each dancer, and an unusual combination of intense coordination beneath a cool exterior.
Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, Zoe Sealy commissioned him to set four works on the MN Jazz Dance Company, where his pieces instantly became audience and dancer favorites. His work led him to travel the world before settling in NYC where he took the city by storm. He was dance captain for the 1979 Broadway production of Evita with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. His original bio lists creative work with Holiday on Ice, Terri Klausner, Mary Tyler Moore, the Broadway show “All Girl Band” and industrials for Maidenform and Capezio. Clarence also worked in Germany, where he performed a one-man show called “American Point of View”. For several summers, he was on faculty at the prestigious American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. Clarence eventually moved to Raleigh, NC where he lived worked in dance with the love of his life, dancer Aldo Melito. His sister Karla describes Clarence as “kind, gentle, thoughtful, generous, intelligent, fun and above all, loving. He came from gentleness”. In a short phrase found in a program of Clarence’s work, he had written “Major thanks to all of my friends who have helped make this evening possible...so I don’t have to dance all alone…”
Clarence Teeters Jr died of AIDS in 1988 at the age of 33. His partner Aldo Melito died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 36.