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Doris Humphries

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Information about Doris Humphries

Profile image of Doris Humphries

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Dancer
Dance Group Manager
Dance Instructor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
All Colors
Favorite Food:
Steak
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
New York, New York
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/10/1924
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Dancer
Dance Group Manager
Dance Instructor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
All Colors
Favorite Food:
Steak
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
New York, New York
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/10/1924
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Doris Humphries is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Dancer Doris Humphries was born in Chicago, Illinois, on September 10, 1924. While still a child, Humphries would mimic the dancers that she saw in the movies, and to reproduce the tapping sound of the tap dancers, she attached bottle caps to the soles of her shoes. At the age of eleven, Humphries began taking lessons from legendary choreographer Sadie Bruce; at fourteen, she took up rhythm skating with a group called The Musketeers. While attending Englewood High School in Chicago, Humphries met up with her dancing partner, Junior; the two would go on to be known as Dinky and Junior.

Following their graduation from high school, the Junior and Humphries auditioned for Berle Adams of the prestigious William Morris Agency; he quickly signed them, and they began touring the United States dancing with bandleader Louis Jordan. As they toured, the duo performed with Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstein, and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1945, Humphries met Sergeant Hedrick Humphries, and the two were married the following year. Humphries went into retirement to raise her family, but after the birth of her third child, she returned to dancing, focusing on Latin dance. Continuing her training, Humphries enrolled in Jimmy Payne’s Afro-Cuban dance class, where she met her next dance partner; the two created a duo known as Tony and Tanya Belle, with which they gained fame for their innovative coupling of Latin and soul.

In 1986, Humphries was awarded a grant from the City of Chicago to create an outreach program; her group, The Closet Performers, was an immediate success, with students in her classes ranging from age three to ninety-two. In 2004, Humphries again contributed to the dance education of Chicago residents by opening the Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Fourteenth Annual Dance Festival with an appearance as a panelist for a discussion on African American Women in Tap. In addition to her work with the City of Chicago, Humphries continued teaching ballroom, Latin, and tap dancing, at the South Shore Cultural Center for over ten years, as well as classes at Oak View Park Center and Moraine Valley College.

See how Doris Humphries is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Doris Humphries' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Doris Humphries lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Doris Humphries describes her maternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Doris Humphries talks about her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Doris Humphries describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Doris Humphries describes her father's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Doris Humphries describes her earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Doris Humphries talks about moving frequently while growing up in Chicago, Illinois during the Great Depression
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Doris Humphries describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Doris Humphries describes her childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Doris Humphries describes Chicago, Illinois' South and West Sides and the living conditions there during the Great Depression
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Doris Humphries talks about her younger sister who died of pneumonia when they were children
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Doris Humphries recalls her favorite elementary school teacher and her experience in high school in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Doris Humphries recalls meeting her first dance partner at Englewood High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Doris Humphries describes the type of dance routines she and her first partner choreographed
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Doris Humphries talks about skating with the Musketeers as a high school student in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Doris Humphries lists African American performers and other tap dancers that inspired her
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Doris Humphries remembers her first out-of-town performance at Club Plantation in St. Louis, Missouri in 1944
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Doris Humphries remembers performing with Dizzy Gillespie and talks about the name changes of her duo, the Manhattan Debs
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Doris Humphries remembers facing discrimination on the bus and at a Catholic church while performing in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Doris Humphries recalls staying in private homes while traveling for performances
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Doris Humphries talks about performing 'Caldonia' with Louis Jordan in California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Doris Humphries reflects upon the limitations placed on African American performers during the 1940s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Doris Humphries remembers performing at the Apollo Theater in New York, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Doris Humphries talks about meeting the Nicholas Brothers and Noble Sissle and being in the movie 'Swing Parade of 1946'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Doris Humphries talks about filming the movie 'Swing Parade of 1946' with Louis Jordan and The Three Stooges, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Doris Humphries reflects upon leaving show business around 1946 to focus on marriage and family
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Doris Humphries remembers African American performers Flash McDonald, Peg Leg Bates and Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Doris Humphries talks about Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan and reflects upon her sheltered experience in show business
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Doris Humphries talks about filming the movie 'Swing Parade of 1946' with Louis Jordan and The Three Stooges, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Doris Humphries recalls organizing community theater workshops and working with the Better Boys Foundation in Chicago, Illinois during the 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Doris Humphries recalls dancing with Tony Cortez as part of the duo Tony and Tanya Belle
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Doris Humphries talks about teaching dance through a community fine arts program operated out of Little Flower Parish in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Doris Humphries lists the types of dance she teaches and reflects upon her career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Doris Humphries reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Doris Humphries describes her concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Doris Humphries reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Doris Humphries lists her children and talks about her daughter's career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Doris Humphries describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Doris Humphries narrates her photographs