By Seth Grabel
Spanning the decades: from Hollywood to success on the Las Vegas Strip
Glamour, excitement and the stage called Anita Mann at an early age. Originally from Detroit, she would put bottle caps on her shoes and tap with them as a child. By age 12, she would dance in her first professional job as one of the Chucko the Birthday Clown’s entertainers performing afternoon at the Moulin Rouge club in Los Angeles. The showgirls who performed in the evening would mesmerize her, and Mann knew this is where she belonged. “I was passionate about dancing and my journey was meant to be a dancer.”
Today Mann is a dancer, Emmy Award-winning choreographer, actress, wife, mother, director and producer with a successful career, loving family and creator of the one of the top shows on the Las Vegas Strip. “Fantasy,” a sexy topless production at Luxor Hotel and Casino that debuted over 16 years ago.
Mann recalled her life-changing moment. As she was walking home from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, she saw a long line starting at CBS Television Studios that spilled out into the street. She noticed the people in line looked like dancers and found out it was an audition for a TV show. Mann decided to audition as well. Out of thousands of seasoned dancers, she secured a spot.
Her career took her on a tour of “West Side Story,” dancing in television programs and films. While working on the Elvis film “Spinout,” dancing in a big party scene, Mann observed what happened behind the scenes. She realized that Elvis would always end up at the same spot, regardless of the extras dancing. Since it was supposed to be a party there was no choreography, but Mann decided to create a routine since Elvis would finally stand next to her in the scene. The choreographer complimented her on her routine and asked if she would assist him on Elvis’ next movie.
From there her career thrived. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has honored Mann as one of America’s top contemporary choreographers, and she has been awarded five Emmy Nominations and one Emmy Award for choreography. As for producing, according to Mann, “It happened by mistake. I was directing and choreographing a live rock musical (in Los Angeles). The producers ran out of money and no one was getting paid. I loved the concept but it needed work. I took my entire life savings and asked the cast if they would give me two weeks, stay with the show and I would pay them. They agreed to stay.” Mann was a single mother of two children, and this was a very big risk. With a limited run, Mann sent invitations, but it wasn’t until the last night of the show that the then-owner of the Riviera Hotel and Casino attended. He loved it and asked Mann to produce her first show at his property. The rest, as it is said, is history.
Mann is also passionate about supporting the arts. Mann’s newest philanthropic venture is the Professional Dancers Society, an organization that focuses on establishing a retirement home for dancers. Mann has also devoted many years supporting The Dizzy Feet Foundation with a goal to increase dance education across the United States through funding dance programs. Mann also is passionate about supporting other dance organizations such as The Gabriella Foundation, The Music Center: The Center Dance Arts, USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and SHARE, Inc.