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Who is Michael Bennett?

Michael Bennett is a dynamic figure whose impact spans across sports and social activism. A former NFL star, Bennett is renowned for his defensive prowess on the field and his commitment to justice off it. His story intertwines athletic excellence with a deep dedication to community empowerment. How has Bennett's journey inspired change both in and out of the sports arena?
Brendan McGuigan
Brendan McGuigan

Michael Bennett is an American playwright, choreographer, and dancer. He was born in New York in 1943, and died in 1987 at the age of 44. He won a number of Tony Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize in the course of his career.

Michael Bennett studied dance from a young age, and performed throughout his early childhood. He eventually left high school to tour with Westside Story in the role of Baby John, and received enough critical acclaim to establish himself on Broadway when he returned from the road. Throughout the early-1960s he danced on Broadway, beginning with Subways Are For Sleeping. Starting in the second half of the 1960s he began to choreograph dance routines for various shows, and although his first couple of attempts were failures, he eventually had a success with Promises, Promises.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

In the mid-1970s Michael Bennett became involved in the Chorus Line project. Chorus Line used hours of interviews with Broadway dancers to build the most credible, true-to-life expression of the Broadway dance scene ever produced at the time. It follows the exploits of seventeen different dancers as they audition to be a part of a chorus line, with each character explaining their reasons for being involved in Broadway in the first place. It has resonated deeply with audiences since its first production, where it played for more than six-thousand shows. In 2006 it underwent a Broadway revival, and then went on to tour the United States.

Michael Bennett was originally brought in to simply observe the production of A Chorus Line, but as time went on he began to play a larger role in the choreography, eventually taking over entirely and directing. Later, Michael Bennett would claim that A Chorus Line was in fact his idea, a claim that led to a number of lawsuits, as well as him being ostracized from a number of groups within Broadway.

A Chorus Line wound up winning 12 Tony Awards, of which it won 9, including Michael Bennett for Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Direction of a Musical. The musical also won a Pulitzer Prize, one of only seven musicals to receive that honor, and Michael Bennett was one the five recipients of the Pulitzer. He also won two Drama Desk Awards for A Chorus Line.

Michael Bennett went on to choreograph and direct a number of other famous Broadway musicals. His most notable after A Chorus Line was the musical Dreamgirls, for which he won a number of Tony Awards and Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Director of a Musical and Best Choreography again.

Throughout the 1980s, Michael Bennett struggled with various substance abuse problems, ultimately tearing down the relationships he had within Broadway. At the same time, he was struggling with AIDS, and the combination of drugs and the wasting disease led to a severe reduction in his work. He eventually passed away in the mid-1980s of lymphoma, related to the AIDS virus. Michael Bennett is remembered as one of Broadway’s greatest choreographers, and part of his legacy has been a donation of a substantial portion of his estate to help fund AIDS research.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Michael Bennett?

Michael Bennett is a former American football defensive end who played in the National Football League (NFL). He is known for his time with the Seattle Seahawks, where he was a key player in their Super Bowl XLVIII victory. Bennett was recognized for his on-field performance with multiple Pro Bowl selections and was also noted for his social activism, particularly in areas of racial justice and equality.

What are Michael Bennett's notable achievements in the NFL?

During his NFL career, Michael Bennett was selected to three Pro Bowls, indicating his status as one of the league's top players at his position during those years. He was instrumental in the Seattle Seahawks' dominant defense, which led them to a Super Bowl victory in the 2013 season. Bennett's career includes impressive statistics such as numerous quarterback sacks and tackles for loss, showcasing his impact on the field.

How has Michael Bennett contributed to social activism?

Michael Bennett has been a vocal advocate for social justice issues, using his platform as a professional athlete to raise awareness. He has supported causes related to racial equality, police brutality, and the empowerment of minority communities. Bennett's activism includes sitting during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and participating in community events and discussions aimed at fostering change and understanding.

What teams did Michael Bennett play for in the NFL?

Michael Bennett played for several teams throughout his NFL career. He began with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He then had a successful stint with the Seattle Seahawks, which included a Super Bowl win. Bennett also played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and New England Patriots before retiring from professional football.

Has Michael Bennett written any books or engaged in other projects off the field?

Yes, Michael Bennett has co-authored a book titled "Things That Make White People Uncomfortable," which discusses his views on race, the NFL, and his role in social activism. The book reflects his commitment to social justice and his willingness to engage in important conversations off the field. Additionally, Bennett has been involved in various community projects and initiatives that aim to empower underprivileged groups.

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