Hoffman, Gertrude (1886–1966) By Cohen-Stratyner, Barbara
Gertrude Hoffman (Hoffmann) was an early twentieth-century Broadway dance director and performer, and the first woman to receive a dance direction—or choreographic—credit on Broadway. From her first credited choreography for Punch, Judy & Co (1903), through to her retirement in the early 1940s, she was known for her clever and innovative staging of women’s precision choruses for both the Broadway and the international stage. As a solo performer, however, she is remembered as an impersonator of other vaudeville and theater performers and concert dancers, developing a vaudeville feature act called The Borrowed Art of Gertrude Hoffman. Hoffman developed and performed in the first U.S. productions of the Ballets Russes repertoire (1911–15), was the first woman admitted to the Theatrical Managers’ Protective Association, and, after buying herself out of her previously signed contracts, set up her own producing organization. In the 1920s and 1930s, she created and staged dance specialties for precision dance teams, known as The Gertrude Hoffman Girls, comprised of twelve to twenty-four performers. Her troupes appeared in the Shuberts’ annual Broadway revues and musicals, as well as in ‘‘picture palaces’’ and large cinemas in America and Western Europe. She retired when World War II closed access to the European entertainment industry.