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Eleo Pomare

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Information about Eleo Pomare

Profile image of Eleo Pomare

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Choreographer
Dancer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
West Indian Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Warm
Favorite Quote:
I Ain't Doing That.

Birthplace

Born:
10/20/1937
Birth Location:
Santa Marta,

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Choreographer
Dancer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
West Indian Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Warm
Favorite Quote:
I Ain't Doing That.

Birthplace

Born:
10/20/1937
Birth Location:
Santa Marta
See how Eleo Pomare is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Choreographer and dancer Eleo Pomare was born on October 20 1937 in Santa Marta, Colombia. His father, Tawny Forbes, was the captain of a civilian freighter that was torpedoed near Colón, Panama during World War II. Pomare, at age six, who was with his father during the attack, survived and moved to live with his mother, Mildred Pomare Lee, in Panama. In 1947 Pomare was sent, alone, to New York City to live with an aunt and uncle who cared for him until some years later when his mother also moved to New York. He attended the New Lincoln School in Harlem, and later both P.S. #184 and James Fenimore Cooper Junior High School. At New York’s famed High School of Performing Arts, Pomare was mentored by Verita Pearson, and was exposed to such guest teachers as Uta Hagen and Martha Graham. While still a student, Pomare taught dance to other youth at the Police Athletic League (PAL). Soon, his pupils were performing at churches, schools and nearby Fort Dix. Moving into a building that housed Syvilla Fort’s studio near Town Hall, Pomare was exposed to the Durham technique by Walter Nicks and Talley Beatty. Graduating from the High School of Performing Arts in 1953, Pomare maintained his own dance company as he continued his training with Louis Horst, José Limón, Asadata Dafora, Pearl Reynolds and Curtis James. Pomare also befriended author James Baldwin, whose writing greatly influenced him.

In 1960, Pomare held his first major performance at the 92nd Street YMHA to favorable reviews. The following year he was awarded a John Hay Whitney Fellowship to study dance with Kurt Jooss in Essen, Germany. Pomare left the Jooss School and went on to reestablish the Eleo Pomare Dance Company, based in Amsterdam. He became a sensation in Europe. Using his own approach to choreography and teaching, he created his most celebrated works: Missa Luba, which combined the Catholic Mass with the music and voices of the Congolese Boys’ Choir; Blues for the Jungle, which depicted the history of African Americans from the earliest days of enslavement to the fight for equal rights in the 1960s; and Las Desenamoradas, which was inspired by Garcia Lorca’s play, The House of Bernarda Alba.

Over the years, Pomare received a number of dance fellowships including the aforementioned John Hay Whitney Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1972. The Eleo Pomare Dance Company toured North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, the Caribbean and Africa. They also performed in Lagos, Nigeria for FESTAC ’77, the World Festival of African Arts. Some of his featured dancers include Dudley Williams, Loretta Abbott, Al Perryman, Dyane Harvey, Charles Grant, Chuck Davis, Martial Roumain, Carl Paris, Leni Wylliams and Diana Ramos. In 1986, Pomare created Morning Without Sunrise, set to music by Max Roach, in honor of the heroism of Nelson Mandela.

In 1968, Pomare, along with Carole Johnson, Rod Rodgers, Gus Solomon and Pearl Reynolds, formed the Association of Black Choreographers and THE FEET, a black dance magazine. The Eleo Pomare Dance Company celebrated twenty-five years of dance in 1983, and January 7, 1987, was declared Eleo Pomare Day by the borough president of Manhattan, David Dinkins.

Pomare was a highly sought after teacher and choreographer until his death on August 8, 2008, at the age of 70.

Eleo Pomare was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 18, 2007.

See how Eleo Pomare is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eleo Pomare's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare describes his father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare describes the feud between his maternal and paternal families
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare describes his mother's upbringing in San Andres, Colombia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare remembers his father's death
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eleo Pomare describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Eleo Pomare describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Eleo Pomare describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Eleo Pomare describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Eleo Pomare recalls how he came to the United States
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare remembers the Carnival in Panama
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare describes Latin American dance and music
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare describes the impact of African culture on Latin America
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare describes his experiences upon arrival in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare remmebers P.S. 184 in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare describes his uncle's influence on his education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare recalls his relatives in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Eleo Pomare remembers the Harlem community
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon the influence of the church on his dance career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare remembers James Fenimore Cooper Junior High School in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare recalls his woodshop class at James Fenimore Cooper Junior High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare describes his decision to attend the High School of Performing Arts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare talks about teaching dance in New York City, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare talks about teaching dance in New York City, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare recalls African American dancers from his youth
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare describes the High School of Performing Arts in New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare recalls his teachers at the High School of Performing Arts
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare describes his volunteer work as a dance teacher in New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare describes his decision to leave his family home
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare describes his relationship with his maternal family
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare remembers seeing a performance by Talley Beatty
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare recalls the African American dancers of his generation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon the works of Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Eleo Pomare remembers his classmate, Arthur Mitchell
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare describes the first Eleo Pomare Dance Company
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare remembers his company's first performance in New York City
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare remembers obtaining a John Hay Whitney Foundation fellowship
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare describes the Folkwang School of Music, Theatre and Dance in Essen, Germany
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare describes the European Eleo Pomare Dance Company
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare describes his decision to return to the United States, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare describes his decision to return to the United States, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare describes his dance piece, 'Missa Luba'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare recalls the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare describes his dance piece, 'Blues for the Jungle'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare remembers performing "Junkie" from 'Blues for the Jungle'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare describes his dance piece, 'Las Desenamoradas'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare talks about his choreographic method
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare recalls founding the Association of Black Choreographers, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare recalls founding the Association of Black Choreographers, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon black choreographers
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon the cultural influences in his choreography
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare talks about the Harlem Cultural Council Dancemobile
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare describes his fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare remembers the political climate of the late 1970s
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare recalls the lack of funding for African American dance companies
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Eleo Pomare describes his dance piece, 'Morning Without Sunrise,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare describes his dance piece, 'Morning Without Sunrise,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon his dance career
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon his teaching style
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare recalls the members of the Eleo Pomare Dance Company
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare remembers performing at the Adelaide Festival in Australia
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare talks about contemporary dance companies
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare describes his recent choreographic work
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Eleo Pomare describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Eleo Pomare talks about his family
  • Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Eleo Pomare describes how he would like to be remembered