NAME: De Vega, José Jr.

BIRTH DATE/LOCATION:
4 January 1934, San Diego, Calif.

DEATH DATE/LOCATION:
8 April 1990, Westwood, Calif., age 56

»
José De Vega (right).
Photo: courtesy Isabel Gorre

click to enlarge   

  • identification & bio
  • key contact
  • human repositories
  • video documentation
  • photographic documentation
  • movement notation
  • production materials
  • oral history
  • personal papers
  • immediate needs
  • other relevant information
  • overview of works
  • bibliography
  • back to introduction
  • back to index of choreographers


  • IDENTIFICATION AND BIO:
    Actor, dancer and choreographer Jose De Vega was committed to eliminating ethnic stereotypes from the popular media. He made his New York debut in 1957 when he landed the role of "Chino" on Broadway in West Side Story; a role he would reprise in the 1961 film version. Subsequently, he performed in several films (Blue Hawaii, The Spiral Road, and A Covenant with Death) and spent four years with the Modern Dance Company of Rome (Danza Contemporania Di Roma). In 1981, De Vega returned to America and began to choreograph for Great Leap, an Asian-American arts organization based in Santa Monica, Calif., to promote Asian-American recognition in film. (De Vega's father was Filipino and his mother Colombian.) He spent the last nine years of his life with this organization. De Vega's final film work consisted of choreographing the major dance scene for Karate Kid II (1989). He died of AIDS-related causes.

    KEY CONTACT PERSON(S)/EXECUTOR OF ESTATE:
    Isabel Gorre, sister, executor of estate
    3640 Roderick Road
    LA 90065
    323-257-9109 (home)

    Nobuko Miyamoto, founder and artistic director
    Great Leap, Inc.
    1145 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 100D
    Los Angeles, CA 90017
    213-250-8800
    213-250-8801 (fax)
    nobuko@greatleap.org

    HUMAN REPOSITORIES OF THE WORK
    (name and contact info, relationship to the artist and the work, assessment):

    Nobuko Miyamoto, see above.

    VIDEO DOCUMENTATION
    (location, format, condition, assessment):

    Nobuko Miyamoto has kept several pertinent videotapes in the Great Leap collection, as follows:

    Journey in Three Movements (1983)—choreography by Jose De Vega; videotaped by Arts Alive, Educational TV.

    Bridge (1985)—choreography by Jose De Vega; performance video in Great Leap archives.

    The Great Leap (1986)—promotional video featuring, in part, Jose De Vega's work for Great Leap; aired on cable television; available through Great Leap archives.

    In addition, the following videotapes are available through Visual Communications, 120 N. Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles 90012, phone 213-680-4462:

    Jose De Vega: The Artist (n.d.)—documentary, distributed by Visual Communications.

    Spring Rain (n.d.)—short film directed by Jose De Vega, distributed by Visual Communications.

    PHOTOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION
    (location, format, condition, assessment):

    Assorted photographs are in the collection of Great Leap.

    Isabel Gorre holds career photos, negatives, and stills.

    MOVEMENT NOTATION
    (location, type [including notes taken by dancers], assessment):

    None identified.

    PRODUCTION MATERIALS
    (scores, sound recordings, set/costume designs):

    A soundtape of Great Leap's performance of Talk Story I and II (1988-89), as broadcast on KPFK radio, is held in the Great Leap archives. Nobuko Miyamoto wrote the music and De Vega wrote the narrative. De Vega also performed "Pilipino Tango" as part of this show.

    ORAL HISTORY:
    None identified.

    PERSONAL PAPERS
    (location of newspaper clippings, printed programs, press releases, notes, files, diaries; assessment):

    Clipping file at Academy of Dance on Film, Los Angeles (dancer category). The family has saved all personal papers. Isabel Gorre's daughter, an amateur historian, is attempting to organize these materials.

    IMMEDIATE NEEDS
    (archival assistance? storage? other?):

    Assessment of material held at Great Leap.

    OTHER RELEVANT INFORMATION:
    Acting credits for De Vega include featured guest roles on Bonanza, Island of the Lost (TV movie), and I Spy as well as smaller guest roles on Mission Impossible, Hart to Hart, Wild Wild West, and Dynasty.

    Dance for television credits include chorus roles for The Phyllis Diller Special, The Andy Williams Xmas Special, and Shindig

    PARTIAL LIST OF WORKS:
    (title, premiere date, music, production notes, performers):

    Sonyu (1983)—for Great Leap; a collaboration with Nobuko Miyamoto; "Japanese Taiko drumming and modern dance merge with Kinnara Taiko and Great Leap's drum/dance."

    Journey in Three Movements (1983)—for Great Leap; a collaboration with Nobuko Miyamoto; "explores the changing attitudes of the immigrant in the process of Americanization."

    Bridge (1985)—for Great Leap; a collaboration with Nobuko Miyamoto; "expansion of trade in the Pacific Rim brings problems as well as advances to this shrinking world."

    The Karate Kid Part II (1986)—co-choreographed with Nobuko Miyamoto

    BIBLIOGRAPHY:

    • Billman, Larry. 1997. Film Choreographes and Dance Directors: An Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia, with a History and Filmographies, 1893 through 1995. Jefferson, N. Carolina: McFarland & Company. 297.
    • New York Times. 1990. "Jose De Vega Jr., Actor and Choreographer, 56" [obituary] (13 April).
     
    index of choreographers »

    TOP