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Brenda Dixon Gottschild

Most of Bradley's professional career was spent in England and Europe, and little is recorded of his American work. This problem is shared by other African-American choreographers of his generation, such as Leonard Harper, Clarence Robinson, and Addison Carey. In addition, the date and place of his birth are uncertain, as is the date of his stage debut.

Bradley grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and later, after his mother's death, moved to Harlem in New York City, where he lived in a boardinghouse for performers. His early influences included Dancing Dotson and Jack Wiggins, dancers on the black vaudeville circuit; precision dancers Rufus Greenlee and Thaddeus Drayton, who were fellow rooming-house boarders; and the inventive Eddie Rector In the mid 1920s after working as an elevator operator Bradley took a chorus job in a musical revue at Connie s Inn in upper Manhattan Subsequently ...

Article

Robert W. Logan

The illustrious career of Carmen DeLavallade began at the midpoint of the twentieth century and continued into the twenty-first century. In that time she graced the arenas of dance, theater, movies, and television as one of the great dancers of her time, as well as a distinguished choreographer, actor, and teacher.

Carmen Paula DeLavallade was born in Los Angeles, California, to Leo Paul DeLavallade, a bricklayer and postman, and Grace DeLavallade She was a student at Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles when she won an apprenticeship in the Lester Horton Dance Theater Horton a pioneer of modern dance believed that a dancer s education should be well rounded and his apprentices were taught ballet modern and ethnic dance forms as well as painting sculpture and acting Being a Horton apprentice also meant learning from experience the rudiments of scenic design costuming and stage lighting With ...

Article

Howard S. Kaplan

Jamison began her dance studies at the age of six under the tutelage of dance pioneer Marion Cuyjet at the Judimar School of Dance in Philadelphia. She subsequently studied with Antony Tudor, John Hines, Delores Browne, Maria Swoboda, John Jones, and Joan Kerr. After attending Fisk University as a psychology major, she enrolled at the Philadelphia Dance Academy (now the University of the Arts), where Agnes de Mille discovered her and brought her to New York to dance in The Four Marys for American Ballet Theatre's twenty-fifth anniversary on 23 March 1965. Shortly after, at an audition for Donald McKayle, she caught the eye of Alvin Ailey, who subsequently asked her to join his company. She stayed with the company for fifteen years, including a short period in 1966 when the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater joined with the Harkness ...

Article

Jaime McLean

Judith Jamison has spent most of her life perfecting her craft. As a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and artistic director of the internationally renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Jamison has attempted to foster an appreciation for modern American dance and African American cultural expression in both her audiences and her students. She stresses the universality of dance and its ability to promote cross-cultural understanding through the expression of human experiences. “When you come to the theater,” Jamison says, “you open your head and your heart and your mind because we are there to transform you. I’m a human being who has seen the world, so I’m giving you that perspective.”

Jamison, the younger of two children, was born in Philadelphia Her parents instilled in her a passion for the arts As a young child Jamison studied piano and violin before shifting her focus to dance At age six Jamison ...

Article

Ben Penglase

Manuel dos Reis Machado was born in Bahia. He initially called the martial art that he taught “luta regional” (or regional fighting), and this style has since come to be known as capoeira regional. Mestre Bimba was one of the Capoeiramestres or masters who was influential in ...

Article

Vicente Ferreira Pastinha is said to have learned Capoeira as a young boy from an African-born Brazilian named Benedito. He opened his capoeira academy in 1941 in Salvador, Bahia, and worked to preserve the traditional form of capoeira, which he termed capoeira Angola Pastinha was a ...

Article

Paul Schauert

Ghanaian choreographer, dancer, artist, and educator, was born on 13 November 1915 into a royal family of the Akan in central Ghana. His father, Nana Mawere Opoku, was the Okyeame (linguist) of the Asantehene (head chief of the Asante). His mother, Yaa Bemponmaalias Abena Kobina, was a renowned storyteller and the sister of the Asantehene’s chief linguist, Akyeamehene Kwasi Numah. Albert Mawere Opoku was thus in line to become an Okyeame himself and was the heir of the Gyasehene royal house. In addition to the special training in traditional lore and etiquette he acquired from his association with the royal house of the Asante, Opoku received his primary and secondary education at the Kumasi Government School (1921–1930).

After graduation, in 1931, he entered Achimota College (located near Accra, Ghana), where he studied for three years. Following a brief hiatus, he enrolled in 1939 in the Art ...

Article

Ronna C. Johnson

Carlene Hatcher Polite is among the important artists to emerge from the “second renaissance” of African American culture in the 1960s and 1970s. The author of two experimental novels, The Flagellants (1966) and Sister X and the Victims of Foul Play (1975), Polite forged a unique prose style that helped establish innovative modes popularized by later writers. In addition to writing, her widespread career included professional dance training, performance, and instruction; political organizing; civil rights activism; and academic appointments. Born in Detroit to John and Lillian (Cook) Hatcher, international representatives of UAW-CIO, Polite attended Sarah Lawrence College and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. From 1955 to 1963, she pursued a career as a professional dancer. Polite performed with the Concert Dance Theater of New York City (1955–1959) and the Detroit Equity Theatre and Vanguard Playhouse (1960–1962 and taught ...

Article

Navneet Sethi

dancer, choreographer, anthropologist, and teacher. Along with Katherine Dunham (1909–2006), Pearl Primus is regarded as the mother of modern African American dance. Dunham and Primus used their vision as anthropologists to revolutionize African American concert dance by valorizing the African heritage in the African American experience.

Pearl Primus was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 1919 and came to New York City with her parents in the early 1920s. A 1940 graduate in biology from Hunter College in New York Primus had her first brush with racism when she was unable to get a job in a laboratory Taking classes with the New Dance Group a subunit of the Workers Dance League that was dedicated to social change Primus recognized her passion for dance and the need to graft this passion with her sense of outrage at social conditions Primus ...

Article

James Briggs Murray

In the early 1920s Primus's parents brought her from their native Trinidad to New York City, where she attended Hunter College High School and Hunter College, graduating in 1940 with a degree in biology and premedical sciences. Her aspiration to be a physician was thwarted by racial discrimination, which blocked her from being hired by New York's medical laboratories. Turning to the National Youth Administration, she was given a wardrobe position in a dance demonstration unit, despite having no particular interest in dance. She later became a dancer's understudy, and the National Youth Administration assigned her to demonstrate everything from the minuet to the lindy.

Becoming more seriously interested in dance, Primus won a scholarship offered by New York City's New Dance Group in July 1941. She studied and absorbed the techniques of Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Hanya Holm, Charles Weidman, and Beryl McCurnie ...

Article

C. S'thembile West

Primus, Pearl (29 November 1919–29 October 1994), dance pioneer, anthropologist, and choreographer, was born in Trinidad, the daughter of Edward Primus and Emily Jackson, and migrated with her family to New York City when she was two years old. She majored in biology and pre-medicine at Hunter College of the City University of New York and graduated in 1940. Seeking support for graduate studies, she solicited help from the National Youth Administration (NYA). Under the auspices of the NYA she was enrolled in a dance group, subsequently auditioned for the New Dance Group in New York, and earned a scholarship with that institution.

During Primus’s tenure at the New Dance Group, she began to do research on African culture. She visited museums, consulted books, articles, and pictures for months to produce on 14 February 1943 her first significant dance work, African Ceremonial for which she had ...

Article

Pearl Primus studied to be a doctor, not a dancer. A biology major at Hunter College in New York City (where her family had emigrated from Trinidad in 1921), then a graduate student of psychology and health education, she was prevented from gaining a laboratory job by racial prejudice. Pressed for money, Primus applied to the National Youth Administration and was placed as an understudy in a dance troupe. Primus's superb athletic ability won her a scholarship to the New Dance Group in 1941. The first black to study and perform there, she began a long career that sought to counteract racism with Afrodiasporic performance culture.

Primus's early work displayed her careful research of traditional African dance styles and her desire to infuse dance with political and social commentary. Her 1943 professional debut, African Ceremonial received such positive reviews that she was able to open on Broadway ...

Article

Sheila Hassell Hughes

Tony Award winner, and leading African American playwright of the 1970s. Born in Washington, D.C., in 1935, to working-class parents, Joseph A. Walker began his theatrical career in college with acting roles in several student productions at Howard University. He received his BA in 1956 and went on to begin graduate work in philosophy and serve a term in the U.S. Air Force before deciding to pursue a career in theater.

Like the young protagonist, Jeff, in his most famous play, The River Niger, Walker began military service as a navigation student but found himself too distracted by poetic impulses to continue. Rather than drop out altogether like his fictional creation, however, Walker persevered in the corps, becoming a first lieutenant and second-in-command of his squadron before his discharge in 1960. Evidently he emerged even more determined to write.

With an MFA from Catholic University ...

Article

Melanye P. White-Dixon

Emerging in the 1980s as one of the most innovative choreographers of modern dance, Zollar belongs to the cadre of black dancemakers whose work has avant-garde sensibilities and integrates cross-disciplinary theatrical forms. Her dances celebrate and examine the spiritual and folk traditions of the African diaspora. Her choreography is informed by grass-roots lifestyles and the musical and dance traditions of black America as well as by modern and African dance. She has cited modern dancers Dianne McIntyre, Blondell Cummings, and Kei Takei and African dancer-scholar Nontsizi Cayou as key influences.

Zollar's initial dance preparation began as a child under the direction of Joseph Stevenson, a former student of Katherine Dunham Zollar s early training in Afro Cuban and vernacular dance forms supported by ample performing experiences in dance revues for social clubs and community events began to shape her aesthetic After graduating from high school ...

Article

USdancer, choreographer, and company director. She studied with Katherine Dunham, and gained a BA in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City as well as a Master of Fine Arts from Florida State University. In 1980 she moved to New York where she studied and performed with Dianne McIntyre (1980–3) before forming her company *Urban Bush Women in 1984. Its repertory of full-length dance theatre works, mostly by Zollar herself, have explored a range of issues affecting African-American women and include Anarchy, Wild Women, and Dinah (1986), Heat (1988), Song of Lawino (1988), Praise House (1990), Batty Moves (1995), Bones and Ash: A Gilda Story (1995), Self Portrait (1997), and the Bessie Award-winning Walking with Pearl…Southern Diaries (2005 based on the life of ...