Tommy Tune, the legendary Broadway dancer, choreographer and director who won nine Tony awards, said he was “totally heartbroken and literally broken up” over the death of director Mike Nichols.

Tune, who was in the Twin Cities to headline a benefit for the Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts, fell on the ice in downtown Minneapolis around lunchtime on Thursday.

The sidewalk spill happened on First Av. near his hotel. He attributed the fall, which caused a concussion, to his feelings of loss.

“I was down about Mike, bereft and walking around, and then I was literally down on the ground,” he said. “A woman from Boston, who seemed like an angel, came and helped me. She said, you’re bleeding, and she gave me her glove to stop the blood.”

Tune was rushed to the hospital, where the wound around his left eye was sutured. The medical emergency led to the cancellation of a class and a few other things that Tune had planned for the afternoon.

But he was able to recover enough to still headline Thursday night’s gala.

Tune and Nichols worked together on “My One and Only.” The show had a very difficult birth.

“It was a complete flop in out-of-town tryouts in Boston,” he said. “The producers had fired the director, Peter Sellars, and much of the creative team. And they had asked me to direct it if was gonna have any shot at Broadway. I couldn’t see how I could do it as I was already starring in the show and choreographing it. So I asked Mike to come in and put some eyes on it. He agreed to do it for a few days, and then he stayed.”

Tune won two Tonys for his work on that production — best leading actor in a musical and best choreography — and the show ran for two years on Broadway before closing in spring 1985.

“Mike was a creative genius,” Tune said. “And he was lovely person, too.

Onstage at the Lundstrum Center on Thursday, Tune, wearing his trademark red shoes, was serenaded by young talent, and by the Casserly sisters, who run the center. Artistic director Kerry Casserly performed with Tune in "My One and Only" on Broadway.

Tune regaled audiences with stories of his life. He recalled how, while performing in "My One and Only," he and co-star Twiggy took the Concorde to London to perform for Queen Elizabeth in the mid-1980s. It was a whirlwind trip — they had to be back in New York in time for the show — that made them very nervous, he said. That was until the queen's lady-in-waiting complimented them on the performance by saying "You went down very well in the royal box."

Tune said he was delighted to suppor tthe Lundstrum Center, which had had a recent $500,000 renovation. The center was founded by Dorothy Lundstrum who taught dance and manners for over seven decades to youngsters in North Minneapolis. The Casserly sisters, who now run the expanded center, are among the legions of people Lundstrum trained.

Tune taught some steps to the younger generation at Lundstrum on Thursday. He also posed for photos with some donors and benefactors, including former Sen. Norm Coleman (whose wife, Laurie, is one of the five Casserly sisters), singer-actor Jamecia Bennett, and Chanhassen dancer-choreographer Julianne Mundale

Thursday's event, Tune said, helped him “time-step through his life.” He was able to recall the people who touched him and helped him along the way, and the many graceful dance partners he had, from Carol Channing and Tina Turner to Drew Barrymore to Chita Rivera.

The Lundstrum Center, Tune concluded, was like the family-run studio that first trained him in his native Texas before he moved to New York. “These places are good ones for little kids with dreams,” he said. “Of course, if you can do anything else besides this — entertainment — you should.”

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