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Color: White, Bright Yellow, and Navy Blue
Food: Chocolate
Quote: The mintage of wisdom is to know that rest is rust, and that real life is in love, laughter, and work.
Season: Spring
Vacation Destination: Cape Town, South Africa and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Birthplace
Detroit, Michigan United States
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 8/26/2003

Mildred Cruzat was born in Detroit on February 17, 1927. The third of four children, she attended public schools in Detroit and then spent a year at Highland Park Junior College in Detroit. Following that, she went to New York, where she attended the American School of Ballet at Carnegie Hall.

While studying in New York, Cruzat worked as a sales associate at Bloomingdale's, but after completing her ballet training she joined the Larry Steele Smart Affair dance troupe, based in New York and Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1950, she went to Ziggy Johnson's School of Ballet in her native Detroit, where she became an instructor. That same year she also performed with Shuffle Along in a Broadway performance. Cruzat's next destination was St. Louis, where in 1951 she worked as a performer on the Spider Burke TV Show, the first African American television show in the St. Louis market. After her departure from the program, Cruzat spent many years raising her three children.

Cruzat resumed dancing in 1975, working with the Joseph Holmes Dance Theatre in Chicago, where she stayed for five years. In 1981, Cruzat joined the Tony Wilson Dance Company and the Bell School of Performing Arts as an instructor of children's and adult ballet and fitness. Cruzat joined the Chicago Urban League in 1983, working in the Young Parents Center, teaching fitness and dance to young mothers. That same year, she opened the Millie Cruzat Total Fitness Center, where she is still an instructor to all ages for fitness and dance. Cruzat joined the COPE program at the University of Chicago in 1985 as an instructor of dance for teenagers with children. In 1987, Cruzat joined the Beethoven Elementary School staff as a ballet instructor and remained there for eight years, and in 1992, was hired by Lake Meadows Fitness Center as an instructor. She held that position until 1995. In 2002, Cruzat joined the Stewart Modeling Agency, where she continues to work as a model.

In addition to owning her own fitness center, modeling and instructing, Cruzat is active in a number of organizations. She is a member of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and she serves on the boards of the Joseph Holmes Dance Troupe and the Katherine Dunham Retrospective. She is an avid tennis player, and in 1973 was a quarterfinalist in the Women's 35 Singles at the American Tennis Association National Championships. She has devoted her life to fostering the development of African American children through dance and fitness. Cruzat lives in Chicago. She has three children.

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