Peter di Falco was born in 1924 to Sicilian parents in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He developed an interest in dance there in his teens, and began studying tap, ballet, and Polynesian dance. After serving in the Army in WWII, he followed his Johnstown dance teacher to New York and used the G.I. Bill to enroll in the school run by the influential Ethnic dance educator La Meri. She recommended him for a scholarship to Jacob’s Pillow in 1946, and he soon became her partner both on and offstage (though she was more than 25 years older). He would go on to perform with her many times here from 1948 through 1953, often appearing on multiple programs each season—including four appearances during the 1950 season alone. By his own calculations, he appeared in over 125 concert performances in New York and 96 at Jacob’s Pillow during the 1940s and 50s. Although he continued to perform Ethnic dances for the rest of the decade and founded his own company, Di Falco Dance Theatre, in 1956, he stopped touring in 1959 and began a new career in ballroom dance. Referring to this period as his life’s “second act,” he spent more than four decades teaching, choreographing, and performing ballroom dances. He made a brief but memorable return to the Pillow in the early 2000s to film an interview for a proposed documentary on his career. He retired to Durham, North Carolina, where he died of natural causes on February 9, 2017.
Source of Biography
Written by Norton Owen for Jacob's Pillow Remembers.