Paul Draper (dancer)

Paul Draper (dancer)

Paul Draper, a nephew of Ruth Draper, was a famous American dancer. He was born in Florence, Italy to a socially prominent New York family which was less than pleased at his choice of dance as a vocation.

Draper taught dancing at an Arthur Murray dance school. In 1930 he took tap dancing lessons at Tommy Nip's Broadway dance school. After only six lessons, he sailed for London, confident that he would find work as a dancer. He scraped together a living performing flashy routines in Europe and the United States, then enrolled in the School of American Ballet and realized the possibilities of combining tap and classical ballet.

By 1937, he was performing at such venues as the Persian Room at the Plaza Hotel and the Rainbow Room. Carnegie Hall followed, then Broadway and a film version of William Saroyan's "Time of Your Life" (1948).

In 1940, when he teamed up with Larry Adler, a virtuoso harmonicist. The two became a world-famous act performing together until 1949. They appeared as regulars at New York's City Center. The act finally disbanded when jobs dried up after they were blacklisted as Communist sympathizers.


Paul Draper was married to the ballerina Heidi Vosseler (who died in 1992); they had three daughters.


Paul Draper died in Woodstock, New York on September 20 1996, aged 86, from emphysema. He was survived by his daughters and two grandchildren.


In 1948, the dance critic of the "New York Times", John Martin, likened his (Draper's) feet to fingers on a keyboard. ::"His touch is sensitive, full of dynamic shading ... [H] is phrasing is beautifully free and rhythmic, and against the background of his carefully chosen music he invents the most delicate and rapturous counter phrases."



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