LANCASTER, Pa. — – Jose Greco, a flamenco dancer and choreographer who became known as the greatest Spanish dancer in the world, has died. He was 82.
A spokesman for Franklin & Marshall College, where Greco was an adjunct professor, said Tuesday that he suffered heart failure on Sunday at his home in Lancaster.
"He danced with such verve and such contagious joy that when you watched him you had to share that same enthusiasm and pleasure," said Lynn Brooks, a colleague of Greco's at Franklin & Marshall.
Born in Montorio nei Frentani, Italy, of Spanish-Italian parents, he moved to Seville, Spain, at the age of 3, then was raised in Brooklyn from the age of 10.
He began his career in 1937 and became known as the greatest Spanish dancer in the world.
In 1941, the already famous Argentine-born dancer La Argentinita (known off the stage as Encarnacion Lopez) was preparing for an American tour when she saw Greco dance and asked him to perform as her partner and the featured male performer in her company. After her death in 1945, Greco danced with her sister, Pilar Lopez.
In 1951, Greco shared with Carol Channing the title of "New Broadway Personality of the Year." The Jose Greco Dance Company, which helped integrate flamenco with mainstream ballet, toured extensively in North America, and six times worldwide, over the next two decades.
He appeared in several movies, including Around the World in 80 Days, Ship of Fools, The Proud and the Damned, Sombrero and Holiday for Lovers.
In 1962, he was knighted by the Spanish government.
Greco retired from dance in the 1960s; in later years, the dance company he founded starred his son Jose Greco II, who now lives in Laredo, Texas. His two daughters are also professional dancers.