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Therese Duzinkiewicz Baker

prima ballerina, modern dancer, choreographer, teacher, and painter, was born Janet Fay Collins in New Orleans, the daughter of Ernest Lee Collins, a tailor, and Alma de Lavallade (the noted dancer Carmen de Lavallade was a first cousin on this side of the family), a seamstress. At the age of four Collins moved to Los Angeles with her family, which included three sisters and one brother. In Los Angeles, Collins had trouble being accepted into “whites-only” dance studios, so she worked with private tutors. Her first formal ballet lessons were at a Catholic community center at the age of ten.

When she was fifteen Collins auditioned for the prestigious Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo led by the legendary Leonide Massine Collins was accepted but only on the condition that she stay in the corps de ballet and that she paint her face white to blend in with the other ...

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Pamela Lee Gray

dancer, artist's model, and dance instructor, was born in Early County, Georgia, sometime in 1908. Information about her parents and childhood years is unavailable.

Known professionally throughout her career as Maudelle, Bass moved to California around 1933 and attended classes at the Gray Conservatory of Music and Art in South Central Los Angeles. Bass was the first black dancer to be trained by modern choreographer Lester Horton, and she later danced with her instructor as part of the Lester Horton Dance Group. Bass trained in the Mary Wigman and Bess Mensendieck dance techniques, which stressed interpretation and stark movement, often without music or to a simple drum or percussion instrument. Dr. Bess Mensendieck taught to liberate women from traditional movement and showcased the use of the natural body as a modern form.

Bass also joined a number of black dancers who were interested in studying ...