Buster Cooper, Master Teacher AND Choreographer
Buster Cooper first gained wide recognition as a choreographer for shows in New York and in Las Vegas. He was the original choreographer for Bottoms Up, the longest running review in Las Vegas. His jazz ballet Percussion Suite was presented at the Seattle World’s Fair.
In the 1950s, Cooper was a founding partner of Choreo Records, which provided music and choreography for dance teachers all over the world.
In the 1970s, he toured Europe, teaching at the University of Exeter in England and performing in England, Germany, and Holland. In 1977 he studied, taught, and performed in Japan as a cultural exchange director for the Buffalo, New York - Kanazawa Japan Sister City Goodwill Tour. He also toured Portugal, Spain, and Morocco.
For 52 years, Mr. Cooper owned and operated The Buster Cooper School of Dance. He also founded the dance program at Hockaday School, and served as the head of the Hockaday dance department for over 30 years.
In the late 1980s, Mr. Cooper had six of his students appearing simultaneously on Broadway: A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, and Cats.
In 1983, Mr. Cooper performed the Bob Hope Special with the Buster Cooper Dancers.
He worked with many talented artists, including Patsy Swayze, Agnes deMille, George Skibine, Lee Adams, Charles Strauss, Peter Gennaro, Alice Faye, Pat Boone, Pamela Tiffin, Bob Newhart, Tom Ewell, Jose Ferrer, Bobby Darin, and Ann-Margret.
He was (and still is) held in high regard as a faculty member of many early prominent dance organizations throughout the nation, and has conducted master classes at many colleges and universities all over the United States.
Mr. Cooper was active as a faculty member at meetings and conventions sponsored by many organizations such as Dance Educators of America, Chicago National Association of Dancing Masters, Inc., Dance Masters of America, Southern Dance Association, Texas Association of Teachers of Dance, Professional Dance Teachers Association, and National Association of Dance Affiliated Artists.
In 1996, Dance Masters of America presented Mr. Cooper with the prestigious Presidents Award in New York. In 1997, The Dallas Dance Council recognized him with the Mary McLarry Bywaters Award, honoring his lifetime contribution to dance. Mr. Cooper also received the 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award from Dance Educators of America in Las Vegas.
During the summer of 1995 Cooper performed in Dances to Celebrate, in Dallas. Margaret Putnam, dance critic of The Dallas Morning News, wrote of his performance: “Delightful, too, is Buster Cooper... With a grin so big it makes slits of his eyes, he claps his hands, shrugs a shoulder and spins about, all the while raining down soft, lightly inflected taps.”
Buster Cooper continues to contribute to the dance community even after his death, with the generous help of the Dance Council of North Texas, by offering the Buster Cooper Jazz Scholarship and the Buster Cooper Tap Scholarship to young students, giving them the opportunity to further their dance education.
Today, Buster Cooper's legacy continues in his granddaughter, Keira Anne Leverton, and other expert instructors as they revive Choreo Records Company.