Tommy Sutton


Tommy Sutton

(1918 — January 7, 1995)

Prior to entering a teaching career, Tommy Sutton experienced a full period of professional career as a performer and choreographer. He performed with such notables as “Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fats Waller Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole and many others. He performed in numerous night clubs, cabaret and theater revues across the country, Canada and Europe.

As a choreographer, he choreographed many revues and was the dance director for the legendary Mike Todd in his “Theater Cafe” and his Broadway production of “Gay New Orleans” starring Gypsy Rose Lee. One of his greatest performing thrills was working with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in the Broadway Hit “The Hot Mikado”.  At this point Tommy’s reputation soon began to grow and he found himself very much in demand for his unique teaching skills. He then opened a studio at 218 So. Wabash in downtown Chicago which was an immediate success. It was at this point that

Tommy realized that his own children and the children of his community were being neglected as to their dance training and dance education. With this goal in mind, in 1957 he established Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts, Inc. on Chicago’s South side which was the beginning of a new era in the career of Tommy Sutton and the development of one of the finest schools in the City dedicated to the best dance training possible for the children of his community. It is one of the largest private schools of its type which still flourishes today under the direction of his daughter, Peggy Sutton. Over the years Tommy has taught thousands of students and Mayfair Academy still flourishes today as his legacy, his teaching methods and techniques are still influencing thousands of students across the country and abroad.

It was through Mayfair Academy that he had the opportunity to choreograph numerous Cotillion Balls for the Chicago Links and many other civic organizations which gained him the reputation of “Chicago’s Cotillion Master” and led to the production of his own Mayfair Cotillions. Tommy Sutton has received numerous awards and recognition throughout the years and has served with many dance organizations, such as Chicago National Association of Dance Master, National Association of Dance Artist (NADAA), Dance Educators, Dance Masters and “Take Five”.

In 1979 Tommy “retired” and moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he was on faculty at Spelman College, Atlanta University Dance Theater and taught various Teachers workshops all over the country and abroad. While in Atlanta he wrote and published “Tap along with Tommy” a technical manual for the tap dance teacher, in addition he also produced a videotape, album and cassette tape. To all those that knew Tommy or even just crossed his path briefly, he was known for his charm, personality and charisma. He has inspired and influenced so many throughout the years with his persistence in bringing out the best in everyone. In his later years he became a much sought after Master teacher and lecturer on the subject of Tap Dance and he taught master workshops all over the United States as well as Jamaica and Europe. Tommy Sutton was one of the last of the “Red Hot Hoofers” of our time!

Mr. Tommy Sutton, 76, founder of Mayfair Academy passed away in his Atlanta home on Saturday, January 7, 1995. Tommy Sutton’s teaching career spanned over 50 years, gaining him an international reputation as a leading authority on the art of “Tap Dancing”.


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