In the world of tap dancing, Maurice Hines was nothing short of a legend. The Broadway dancer, choreographer, and actor, who wowed audiences alongside his younger brother Gregory, left an indelible mark on the world of performing arts. Maurice’s recent passing at the age of 80 has left the entertainment industry mourning the loss of a true talent.
Maurice’s journey began in the vibrant streets of Harlem, where he was born on December 13, 1943, to Alma and Maurice Sr. The Hines brothers, Maurice and Gregory, discovered their love for tap dancing at a young age, studying under the renowned Henry LeTang in Manhattan. Inspired by the acrobatic Nicholas Brothers, they made their professional debut as the tap-dancing Hines Kids when Maurice was just around six years old.
Their journey took them to Broadway in 1954, where they appeared in “The Girl in Pink Tights,” choreographed by the legendary Agnes de Mille. As the Hines Brothers and later as Hines, Hines & Dad, with their father Maurice Sr. joining the act in 1963, they became fixtures at the Apollo Theater and captivated audiences in clubs across the United States and Europe.
However, their path wasn’t always smooth. Maurice and Gregory faced a turbulent period, leading to a ten-year estrangement for reasons Maurice chose not to disclose. The emotional pain of their rift is poignantly captured in the 2019 documentary, “Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back.” Maurice, though, took every opportunity to express his love for Gregory, a love that transcended their differences.
The brothers eventually reconciled before Gregory’s untimely death from cancer in 2003, closing a chapter that showcased the complexity of sibling relationships.
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Maurice’s solo career shone brightly too. He received a Tony Award nomination in 1986 for his role in “Uptown … It’s Hot” and later starred in the 2006 Broadway production, “Hot Feet,” which he conceived, directed, and choreographed. His talent extended beyond the stage; Maurice co-directed and choreographed national tours, leaving an indomitable mark on the world of dance.
In the 1984 film “The Cotton Club,” directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Maurice and Gregory portrayed the feuding Williams Brothers, mirroring their real-life struggles. The film’s authenticity was heightened by the brothers’ improvised scenes, emphasizing their innate connection as siblings.
Maurice’s contributions to the arts extended beyond his performances. He directed, choreographed, and starred in a national tour of “Harlem Suite” alongside luminaries like Jennifer Holliday, Stephanie Mills, and Melba Moore. His dedication to his craft was unwavering, evident in projects like the Louis Armstrong biography, “Satchmo.”
As we remember Maurice Hines, it’s essential to acknowledge the joy he brought to audiences worldwide. His most cherished tap memory, dancing at Paris’ Olympia theater as a teenager, reflects the international impact of his artistry.
Maurice Hines passed away on Friday of natural causes at the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, New Jersey, where he had resided for the past couple of years. He leaves behind a legacy of dance, resilience, and a profound love for his craft.
In a Zoom call just weeks before his 80th birthday, Broadway luminaries gathered to celebrate Maurice’s life—a life that touched the hearts of many and will forever be remembered in the rhythmic echoes of tap shoes on stage.