Toby Towson

Last updated

Toby Towson is an American gymnast and dancer. He performed as the Sesame Street Muppet dog Barkley in its debut appearance in A Special Sesame Street Christmas and in season 10. [1]

A native of Illinois, Towson has had a career in gymnastics, acrobatics, and dance, and he was the 1968 and 1969 NCAA Gymnastics Champion in the Floor Exercise. [2] [3] He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

As an assistant to U.S. Women's gymnastics coach Kelli Hill, Towson coached Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes. [1] He has coached nationally with the USA Gymnastics Talent Opportunity Program and is a National Level Judge with USA Gymnastics. [1]

Through a personal friendship with the Henson family, Towson was tapped to model for the building of a new Sesame Street character which would debut for the tenth anniversary season of Sesame Street. At first the costume was going to be an ape-like creature which could do acrobatics, so as a professional gymnast and dancer, Towson was a natural pick. As the costume was created however, the writers decided to make it into a large furry dog whose original name was "Woov-woov", but no one was happy with that name. It was changed to "Barkley" after the first few appearances on the show. Since Towson was comfortable in the costume, and it fit him, Jim offered him a one-year contract to be on call for Children's Television Workshop, and Towson appeared as "Barkley" for several months until Brian Muehl took over.

Towson continued his acrobatic dancing career and directed the Musawwir Gymnastic Dance Company which performed from a home base in Manhattan for ten years, from approximately 1976 to 1986. Towson taught dance for Washington County Public Schools in Hagerstown, Maryland, and coached gymnastics and dance at Rainbow Gymnastics in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. As of 2010, Towson performs an alphabet dancer assembly show. [1]

As of 2010, Towson lives with his wife, Kathryn Talbott, and three children in Boonsboro, Maryland. [1]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oscar the Grouch</span> Muppet character on the television program Sesame Street

Oscar the Grouch is a Muppet character created by Jim Henson and Jon Stone for the PBS/HBO children's television program Sesame Street. He has a green body, no visible nose, and lives in a trash can. Oscar's favorite thing is trash, as evidenced by the song "I Love Trash", with a running theme being his collection of seemingly useless items. Although the term "Grouch" aptly describes Oscar's misanthropic interaction with the other characters, it also refers to his species. The character was originally performed by Caroll Spinney from the show's first episode until Spinney's retirement in 2018. Eric Jacobson began understudying for the character in 2015, and officially took on the full role after Spinney's retirement in 2018.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Big Bird</span> Sesame Street character

Big Bird is a Muppet character designed by Jim Henson and built by Kermit Love for the long-running children's television show Sesame Street. An eight-foot two-inch (249 cm) tall bright yellow anthropomorphic bird, he can roller skate, ice skate, dance, swim, sing, write poetry, draw, and ride a unicycle. Despite this wide array of talents, he is prone to frequent misunderstandings, on one occasion even singing the alphabet as one long word, pondering what it could mean. He would refer to grocer Mr. Hooper as "Mr. Looper", among other mispronunciations. He lives in a large nest behind the 123 Sesame Street brownstone and right next to Oscar the Grouch's trash can. He also has a teddy bear named Radar. In Season 46, Big Bird's large nest is now sitting within a small, furnished maple tree, and is no longer hidden by used construction doors.

A Special Sesame Street Christmas is a 1978 CBS Christmas special, made the same year as the better-known Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. The special was first broadcast on Friday, December 8, 1978, at 8 PM ET on CBS, pre-empting Wonder Woman that week, starring Leslie Uggams.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sesame Place (Pennsylvania)</span> Theme park in Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Sesame Place is a children's theme park and water park, located outside of Philadelphia in Middletown Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It is the oldest of two theme parks in the United States based entirely on the children's educational television program Sesame Street and includes a variety of rides, shows and water attractions suited for young children. It is also the first theme park in the world to become a certified autism center.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dominique Dawes</span> American artistic gymnast

Dominique Margaux Dawes is a retired American artistic gymnast. Known in the gymnastics community as 'Awesome Dawesome', she was a 10-year member of the U.S. national gymnastics team, the 1994 U.S. all-around senior National Champion, a three-time Olympian, a World Championship silver and bronze medalist, and a member of the gold-medal-winning "Magnificent Seven" team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. She is also the Olympic bronze medalist on floor exercise from the Atlanta games.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Courtney Kupets</span> American artistic gymnast

Courtney Anne Kupets Carter is an American former artistic gymnast. She is a two-time Olympic medalist from the 2004 Olympics, the 2002 world champion on the uneven bars, the 2003 U.S. national all-around champion, and the 2004 U.S. national all-around co-champion. She is also a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2003 World Championships.

Mary Elise Ray is an American gymnast who represented the United States at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 1999 World Championships. She was the head gymnastics coach at the University of Washington from 2016 to 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Acrobatic gymnastics</span> Competitive gymnastic discipline

Acrobatic gymnastics is a competitive discipline of gymnastics where partnerships of gymnasts work together and perform figures consisting of acrobatic moves, dance and tumbling, set to music. There are three types of routines; a 'balance' routine where the focus is on strength, poise and flexibility; a 'dynamic' routine which includes throws, somersaults and catches, and a 'combined' routine which includes elements from both balance and dynamic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Justin Spring</span> American artistic gymnast

Justin Edward Spring is a retired American gymnast. He is a member of the bronze medal winning U.S. team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He was also a top gymnast in NCAA competition, where he represented the University of Illinois.

Moses Pendleton is a choreographer, dancer and the artistic director of MOMIX. MOMIX is a dance company that he formed in 1981 as an offshoot of the Pilobolus, which he had co-founded while a senior at Dartmouth College in 1971. He remained a full-time member with the company until 1980. He choreographs dance sculptures that bring together acrobatics, gymnastics, mime, props, and film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Towson Tigers</span> Intercollegiate sports teams of Towson University

The Towson Tigers, formerly the Towson College Knights, are the athletics teams of Towson University. All of the major athletic teams compete in the Colonial Athletic Association with 19 Division I athletic teams. Gymnastics competes in the EAGL conference, having rejoined the league in the Spring of 2012.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Acro dance</span> A style of dance with acrobatics

Acro dance is a style of dance that combines classical dance technique with precision acrobatic elements. It is defined by its athletic character, its unique choreography, which blends dance and acrobatics, and its use of acrobatics in a dance context. It is a popular dance style in amateur competitive dance as well as in professional dance theater and in contemporary circus productions such as those by Cirque du Soleil. This is in contrast to acrobatic, artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, which are sports that employ dance elements in a gymnastics context under the auspices of a governing gymnastics organization and subject to a Code of Points. Acro dance is known by various other names including acrobatic dance and gymnastic dance, though it is most commonly referred to simply as acro by dancers and dance professionals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shawn Johnson East</span> American artistic gymnast

Shawn Johnson East is an American former artistic gymnast. She is the 2008 Olympic balance beam gold medalist and team, all-around and floor exercise silver medalist. Johnson is also the 2007 all-around World Champion, and a five-time Pan American Games gold medalist, winning the team titles in 2007 and 2011, as well as titles in the all-around, uneven bars, and balance beam in 2007.

Shenea Booth is an American acrobatic gymnast who represented the United States of America at the 2001 World Games, the 2002 World Championships and the 2004 World Championships in the Mixed Pair event, along with her partner, Arthur Davis.

The American children's television series Sesame Street is known for its extensive merchandising. Licensees include a variety of companies which manufacture books, magazines, video/audio media, and toys using the characters and themes of Sesame Street.

Youri Germanovich Vorobyev is a Soviet-born coach of acrobatic gymnastics who produced more than a dozen world-championship acrobatic gymnasts during his coaching career in the Soviet Union and Russia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Laurie Hernandez</span> American artistic gymnast

Lauren Zoe Hernandez is an American artistic gymnast. During her debut year as a senior gymnast, she competed as a member of the U.S. women's gymnastics team dubbed the "Final Five" at the 2016 Summer Olympics; Ultimately, the U.S. won gold in the team event. In the individual events, Hernandez earned the silver medal on the balance beam. She returned to training in late 2018 and expressed interest in making a comeback to earn a spot on the U.S. women's gymnastic team for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, but she did not qualify for the Olympic Gymnastics Trials.

Hand to hand acrobatics is a type of performance in which an acrobatic base and flyer balance on top of each other in either a gymnastic or acrobatic medium. It combines strength, agility, flexibility, and balance. For it to be considered hand to hand acrobatics, the top performer (flyer) must be making physical contact only with the base's hands, with the flyer's hands keeping them balanced. Positions the top can perform in this style of acrobatics are straddles, handstands, pikes, press to handstand, one arm handstands, planches, flags, and many others. Hand to hand acrobatics can also include dynamic catches and throws that either begin with a throw from a hand to hand position or end in a catch in the hand to hand position.

Suki Lopez is an American actress, dancer, and graphic designer. She plays Nina on the children's television series Sesame Street.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Fallstrom, Bob (May 31, 2010). "Former Gymnast Vaults Into New Career". Herald-Review. Decatur, Illinois.
  2. National Collegiate Gymnastics
  3. Hickok's Sports History