Charles Sylvan "Cholly" Atkins (born September 30, 1913 in Pratt City; died April 19, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada) was a dancer and vaudeville performer who became known as the in-house choreographer for the Motown record label. He won a Tony award for his choreography in the 1989 Broadway musical Black and Blue.
Atkins first found fame by winning a Charleston dance contest in 1923. He toured as half of a tap-dance duo with Charles "Honi" Coles on the vaudeville circuit. He was part of the dancing troupe who performed on the Broadway run of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" from 1949 to 1951.
As he became less active as a performer, Atkins continued to work in show business as a choreographer. His work with The Miracles brought him to the attention of Motown's Berry Gordy, who hired him in 1964 as the label's in-house choreographer. He took over for Paul Williams in planning the dance moves for The Temptations, and also worked with The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and The Supremes well into the 1980s. He also continued to freelance with groups like The Cadillacs, The Sylvers, The O'Jays, and DC Drive.
Atkins is also credited with innovating the signature "slow-quick-quick-slow-quick-quick" cadence of the "Graystone" at Detroit's Graystone Ballroom. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1994.
Atkins was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003 and died that April.
- Martin, Douglas (April 23, 2003) "Cholly Atkins, 89, Dancer and Choreographer" obituary. The New York Times
- Holmes, Vance (August 13, 2008) "Charles "Cholly" Atkins". American Dance Legends
- "Cholly Atkins" (July 17, 2012) Wikipedia - accessed October 9, 2012