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Homer Bryant

Dance founder and instructor Homer Bryant was born in the Virgin Islands on the Isle of St. Thomas in 1950 and became involved in dance in middle school. His teacher arranged for him to dance at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance School where he studied under some of the most prominent modern dance pioneers. Bryant then came to the attention of dancer and choreographer Arthur Mitchell, founder of the Dance Theater of Harlem, the first African American classical dance company in the United States. Mitchell extended an invitation to Bryant to come to New York and study with the company, which he accepted.

In 1972, Bryant began his professional career when he won an audition to replace a member of the company. He continued to dance and tour professionally with the Dance Theater of Harlem and took a hiatus in 1978 to perform in the Broadway musical Timbuktu! alongside Eartha Kitt. He also appeared in the film version of the musical The Wiz along with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. He then worked with Donald McKayle’s dance company and while on tour came to Chicago and danced briefly with Maria Tallchief’s Chicago City Ballet.

In 1981, Bryant returned to New York to oversee the Dance Theater of Harlem’s pre-professional workshop ensemble. Four years later, Bryant moved to Chicago to start his own dance company and school, Bryant Ballet. In 1993, Bryant began working with Cirque de Soleil, a relationship that continued for three of Cirque de Soleil’s most popular productions, Mystere, Alegria, and Quidam. Bryant also served as ballet master for the Joel Hall Dancers and Dance Chicago.

In 1997, in recognition of the school’s influence, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley issued a proclamation officially renaming Bryant’s school the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. The next year, Bryant served as lead artist for the city of Chicago’s Gallery 37.

Bryant has received the Chicago Cultural Alliance’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He also was featured in the short documentary Raising the Barre: The Homer Bryant Story in 2009.

Homer Bryant was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 23, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.102

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/23/2010

Last Name

Bryant

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Schools

Saints Peter and Paul School

Erasmus Hall High School

Adelphi University

Chicago School of Massage Therapy

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Homer

Birth City, State, Country

Charlotte Amalie

HM ID

BRY04

State

St. Thomas

Favorite Quote

The Fun Is In The Discipline. The Discipline Is In The Fun.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/29/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

U.S. Virgin Islands

Short Description

Dancer and dance instructor Homer Bryant (1950 - ) performed with the Dance Theater of Harlem and founded the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center.

Employment

Dance Theater of Harlem

Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center

Manhattan Festival Ballet

The Wiz

Timbuktu!

The Evolution of Jazz

Victoria Arts Collaborative

Chicago Public Schools Advanced Arts Program at Gallery 37

Chicago City Ballet

Favorite Color

Lavender, Purple

DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642385">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Homer Bryant's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642386">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Homer Bryant lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642387">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Homer Bryant describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642388">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Homer Bryant talks about his mother's personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642389">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Homer Bryant talks about his father's role in his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642390">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Homer Bryant describes his likeness to his maternal relatives</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642391">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Homer Bryant describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642392">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Homer Bryant describes the community on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642393">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Homer Bryant talks about the history of St. Thomas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642394">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Homer Bryant describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642395">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Homer Bryant talks about the influence of Sidney Poitier</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642396">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Homer Bryant describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642397">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Homer Bryant describes the differences between the U.S. Virgin Islands and New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642398">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Homer Bryant talks about the television programs of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642399">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Homer Bryant recalls his early religious experiences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642400">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Homer Bryant remembers his early influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642401">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Homer Bryant recalls the start of his dance career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642402">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Homer Bryant talks about the death of his first dance instructor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642403">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Homer Bryant recalls his friendship with Eartha Kitt</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642404">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Homer Bryant remembers his decision to move to New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642405">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Homer Bryant describes the start of his ballet training</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642406">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Homer Bryant talks about Arthur Mitchell's ballet methods</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642407">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Homer Bryant describes teaching as a master</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642408">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Homer Bryant talks about modifying the classical ballet pedagogy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642409">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Homer Bryant recalls joining the Dance of Theatre of Harlem</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642410">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Homer Bryant remembers the Dance Theatre of Harlem's debut performance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642411">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Homer Bryant describes the influence of Cicely Tyson and Karel Shook</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642412">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Homer Bryant talks about touring with the Dance Theatre of Harlem</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642413">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Homer Bryant recalls his experiences at Adelphi University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642414">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Homer Bryant remembers his performances outside of the Dance Theatre of Harlem</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642415">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Homer Bryant describes his favorite performances with the Dance Theatre of Harlem</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642416">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Homer Bryant talks about filming 'The Whiz'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642417">Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Homer Bryant recalls taking photographs on the set of 'The Wiz'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642418">Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Homer Bryant remembers performing in 'Timbuktu!' with Eartha Kitt</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642419">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Homer Bryant remembers learning about massage therapy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642420">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Homer Bryant talks about his decision to move to Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642421">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Homer Bryant remembers his daughter's influence on his students</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642422">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Homer Bryant remembers meeting his wife</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642423">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Homer Bryant recalls leading the Dance Theatre of Harlem Workshop Ensemble</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642424">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Homer Bryant talks about his retirement from performance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642425">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Homer Bryant recalls teaching dance courses at Gallery 37 in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642426">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Homer Bryant remembers his involvement with Cirque du Soleil</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642427">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Homer Bryant talks about combining ballet and hip hop dance techniques</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642428">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Homer Bryant talks about his reputation as a teacher</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642429">Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Homer Bryant describes his documentary, 'Raising the Barre'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642430">Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Homer Bryant remembers his students</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642431">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Homer Bryant describes the location of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642432">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Homer Bryant talks about the funding for black arts organizations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642433">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Homer Bryant talks about his youth outreach</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642434">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Homer Bryant describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642435">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Homer Bryant talks about his aspirations for the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642436">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Homer Bryant reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642437">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Homer Bryant talks about his family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642438">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Homer Bryant talks about the death of his daughter</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642439">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Homer Bryant reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642440">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Homer Bryant describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/642441">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Homer Bryant narrates his photographs</a>

Ludie Jones

Ludie Jones is a renowned tap-dancer, famous for her performances in the era of prohibition. She was born on January 28, 1916 in New York City to Lottie and Luther Jones, a family of seven. Jones was introduced to tap in the form of the Charleston at age three. Her mother enrolled her in dance lessons at Elks Hall. At age eleven, she was asked by Amanda Kemp, a ballet teacher, to teach tap dance to her students.

In 1934, Jones graduated from Wadleigh High School for Girls and began touring around England with the chorus line of “Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of ’34.” Upon returning to the U.S., Jones immediately became a member of “The Lang Sisters” along with Marion Worthy and Peggy Wharton. The three of them attended Buddy Bradley’s School of Dancing in London and began working with Louis Armstrong at the Paramount Theatre in New York.

By 1941 “The Lang Sisters” had disbanded so Jones formed the group “The Three Poms” with Sybil Warner and Geraldine Ball. As a group, they were the opening act for the Cab Calloway Band. “The Three Poms” also did shows for troops during World War II in Okinawa, Japan, and the Phillipines before breaking up in the early 1950’s. In 1984, Jones was asked to join the musical “Shades of Harlem” and they toured internationally. That same year, she and Ruby Riley began teaching senior citizens how to dance at the Kennedy Center in Harlem. They called themselves the “Tapping Seniors."

In 2008, Jones was honored at the St. Louis Tap Festival and was given an award on behalf of the Robert L. Reed Tap Heritage Foundation. Two years later, she continued to teach with the “Tapping Seniors” and has been an active member of the Central Harlem Senior Citizens Coalition since 1984. Jones has been featured in many books including Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History by Constance Valis Hill.

Jones passed away on October 3, 2018.

Ludie Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 26, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.008

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/26/2010

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Organizations
Schools

P.S. 141

J.H.S. 69

Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Ludie

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

JON22

Favorite Season

Winter

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

I'm Good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/28/1916

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Spaghetti, Sausage

Death Date

10/3/2018

Short Description

Dancer and dance instructor Ludie Jones (1916 - 2018) was a tap dance legend who tapped for over seventy years. Once a member of The Lang Sisters and The Three Poms, she later performed in Shades of Harlem and taught the Tapping Seniors at the Kennedy Center.

Employment

New York Telephone Company

Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1934

'Shades of Harlem'

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608280">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ludie Jones' interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608281">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ludie Jones lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608282">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ludie Jones describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608283">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ludie Jones describes her mother's move to New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608284">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ludie Jones describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608285">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ludie Jones talks about her parents' relationship</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608286">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ludie Jones lists her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608287">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ludie Jones describes the Phipps Houses in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608288">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ludie Jones remembers the entertainment of her youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608289">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ludie Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608290">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ludie Jones recalls her start as a dancer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608291">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ludie Jones remembers one of her early dance performances</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608292">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ludie Jones remembers the entertainers of her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608293">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ludie Jones describes her educational experiences in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608294">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ludie Jones remembers auditioning for 'Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1934'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608295">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ludie Jones recalls touring Europe with 'Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1934'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608296">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ludie Jones remembers the stars of 'Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1934'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608297">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ludie Jones describes the formation of the Lang Sisters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608298">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ludie Jones talks about the Lang Sisters' performances</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608299">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ludie Jones remembers performing with notable jazz bandleaders</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608300">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ludie Jones remembers touring with the Lang Sisters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608301">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ludie Jones talks about Bill "Bojangles" Robinson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608302">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ludie Jones remembers touring with the United Service Organizations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608303">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ludie Jones remembers her tap dance contemporaries, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608304">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ludie Jones remembers her tap dance contemporaries, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608305">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ludie Jones talks about her favorite tap dancers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608306">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ludie Jones reflects upon the decline of tap dancing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608307">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ludie Jones describes how she came to work for the New York Telephone Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608308">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ludie Jones remembers dancing in 'Shades of Harlem'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608309">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ludie Jones recalls her experiences in France and the U.S. Virgin Islands</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608310">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ludie Jones remembers being asked to tour with the 'Shades of Harlem'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608311">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ludie Jones remembers the Ludie Jones Day celebration in St. Louis, Missouri</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608312">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ludie Jones reflects upon the changes in dance and music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608313">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ludie Jones describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608314">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ludie Jones reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608315">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ludie Jones reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608316">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ludie Jones describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608317">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ludie Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608318">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ludie Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608319">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ludie Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 3</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/608320">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ludie Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 4</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Ludie Jones remembers one of her early dance performances
Ludie Jones remembers performing with notable jazz bandleaders
Transcript
Can you remember your first show, the first show you were in?$$No, no, you mean as far as the dance class?$$Yeah, when you were a little--$$No, no (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) The first time you were put onstage to dance?$$No, the only thing I can remember now is that when I, like when I told you, I had to sing this real southern song, "Oh, they picking on your baby, 'cause you're a pickaninny rose," she [Jones' dance instructor, Emma Kemp] had me to sing that. Everybody who did a specialty, they wore a dress, real pretty dresses, what have you, when my mother [Lottie Watkins Jones], my aunt had made a very beautiful, accordion pleated peach dress, when I got ready to go on--my mother had put the dress on me, and she saw me, you know, naturally, she's at the stage, she said, "Take that off of her, put those overalls on her." I tell you she's prejudiced, and I had to sing and dance in the overalls. And I sang, "Oh, they picking on your baby, because you're a pickaninny rose." Now she's a black woman.$Tell me about the personalities of Luis Russell and Louis Armstrong and?$$Well, Luis Russell was a, he was a very nice guy, I liked him. He'd come in and he'd vocalize and he'd have a little poodle, and he call 'em Charm, and he'd vocalize, "Oh, Charmee," that's how he would warm up, warm his throat up. And Luis Russell was, he was very staid, you know, he, I don't say he was, wasn't friendly, but he wasn't outgoing like Luis Russell--Louis Armstrong.$$Okay. So, Louis Armstrong had what? A bigger, bigger, personality (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$A lot of people have not heard of Luis Russell, these days, now, Louis Armstrong was the national icon--$$Oh yeah, but Luis Russell, at that time, he was quite big too. And then, like I said, I worked with Fats Waller.$$Yeah, now what was Fats Waller like? Now there were plays about Fats Waller--$$Oh, he was high all the time. He was high all the time (laughter).$$On what? What do you think he--$$He drank.$$Okay, so he drank.$$He was a lush.$$I know that he wrote a song about--called the 'Viper Drag' [sic. 'Viper's Drag'] or something.$$Yeah, something like that.$$About smoking, herb too, so I don't, I didn't--$$Well, I don't know about whether he smoked, I guess he could have, but I know he used to drink. He'd be drunk on that stage (laughter).$$Did that (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) but I mean, he played that piano.$$What kind of a person was he?$$Oh, he was nice, he's dolly, very nice, very nice, dolly.$$Yeah, he seemed to be kind of a witty person, the way they portray him on--$$Say what?$$A witty person--$$Yeah.$$--a clever person, and his speech--$$Yeah, he would be, yeah, I enjoyed working with him. I only worked, you know, maybe about a month or so on the road with him.$$Who else were we talking about? We talked--oh, Cab Calloway.$$Oh, Cab Calloway, he was something else (laughter), we used to work with him and The Peters Sisters, at the time. Did you ever hear of The Peters Sisters? They were the fat girls, black girls, and they could sing, and they were on a show with Pearl Bailey and me, I mean, this is with The Poms now, I'm all switched from the Lang Sisters, now to The Poms--$$Now, well, let's just talk about the Lang Sisters for a minute. How did (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, well, I didn't work with Cab with the Lang Sisters.$$Okay, how long did the Lang Sisters last?$$We came back in '35 [1935], '36 [1936]--about a year, two years, 'cause at that time, 'The Mikado' with Bill Robinson [Bill "Bojangles" Robinson] opened up, and Marion [Marion Worthy Warner] decided (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) 'The Swing Mikado'?$$Yeah, Mikad- yeah [sic. 'The Hot Mikado,' W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan], and Marion went for an audition, I went too, but they didn't take me, she got the job, and--of course, and so that left me out. I wasn't working anymore, you know, Peggy [Peggy Wharton] had stopped, and Marion when she got the job, naturally she was a chorus girl went into the chorus, so I was by myself, I didn't work by myself, but in, let's see '39 [1939], I think it was, the--an agent, told me he had two girls that wanted to dance with me, and that's how I became The Three Poms.$$Okay, The Three Poms.$$Um-hm.$$All right, so it was with that group that you danced with Cab (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I was there with them for about, let's see, we went to Japan, we went to--all over the USO shows [United Service Organizations], the US- shows from north to south, east to west, twice--$$The Poms, were they formed at the onset of World War II [WWII], around the same time as the war?$$Yeah, while the war was on.$$Okay. So this is about, so it's about four years when you're not working with a group (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah. That's right, I didn't work.$$Well, what did you do?$$Nothing. My mother [Lottie Watkins Jones] was taking care of me (laughter).$$Did she like the idea of having you home?$$Oh yeah, oh yeah.$$All right.$$I didn't do anything.

Sandra Fortune-Green

Prima ballerina Sandra Fortune-Green was born on March 2, 1951 in Washington, D.C. to Elizabeth and Raymond Fortune. Fortune-Green began her dance career at age ten, enrolling in the renowned Jones-Haywood School of Dance under the instruction of Doris Jones and Claire Haywood. Fortune-Green flourished at the school, eventually becoming a principal dancer for the Capitol Ballet Company.

After Fortune-Green graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1968, she pursued her dance studies in New York at the School of American Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, and the Joffrey Ballet, before settling back in Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University. In 1972, Fortune-Green left Howard to begin training for the prestigious Second International Ballet Competition in Moscow, Russia. She was the only African American to ever compete in this competition. Fortune-Green was eliminated after the second round of judging, but finished twenty-sixth out of the 126 dancers participating. After returning to the United States, Fortune-Green married her high school sweetheart, Joseph Green, on New Year’s Eve of 1975.

In 1987, Fortune-Green earned a Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Arts Award presented by Marion Barry, and in 1994, she was invited to join the faculty at Howard University’s dance department, where she taught ballet technique classes. Fortune Green also is on the dance faculty at the Duke Ellington School of Arts, a position she has held for more than thirty years. In 2007, Fortune-Green became the new owner of the Jones-Haywood School of Dance, the same studio she attended throughout her adolescence and early adulthood. Years earlier, Jones and Haywood stated in a 1974 interview that they hoped Fortune-Green would continue their legacy.

Fortune-Green has been widely recognized for her efforts within the performing arts, including a designation as an outstanding alumnus from Howard University. Fortune-Green was also featured in two major publications, Black Dance from 1619 to Today by Lynne Fauley Emery and The Black Tradition in Dance by Richard Long.

Sandra Fortune-Green was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 23, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.270

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/23/2007

Last Name

Fortune-Green

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Barnard Elementary School

Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School

School of American Ballet

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sandra

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

FOR10

Favorite Season

Summer

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oceans

Favorite Quote

The Greatest Reward Comes From The Greatest Commitment.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/2/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Yogurt, Strawberries, Oatmeal

Short Description

Ballet dancer and dance instructor Sandra Fortune-Green (1951 - ) participated in the Second International Ballet Competition in Moscow, Russia in 1972 and was the only African American to ever compete. She was the owner of the Jones-Haywood School of Dance and taught ballet at Howard University and at the Duke Ellington School of Arts.

Employment

Howard University Dance department

Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Jones-Haywood School of Dance

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579941">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sandra Fortune-Green's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579942">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579943">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her mother's sisters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579944">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her maternal grandparents, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579945">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her maternal grandparents, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579946">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579947">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579948">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her neighborhood in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579949">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers the segregation of Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579950">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her early education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579951">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green talks about her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579952">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her mother's interests</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579953">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her start at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579954">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers seeing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579955">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls performing with the Bolshoi Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579956">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers learning to dance on pointe</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579957">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her peers at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579958">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls receiving criticism at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579959">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers her early performances at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579960">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes Doris Jones' style of instruction</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579961">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579962">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes the black ballet community in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579963">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579964">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her teachers at the School of American Ballet in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579965">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers the culture of the School of American Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579966">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her summers in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579967">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers her influences as a dancer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579968">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green reflects upon her dance training</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579969">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green talks about racial discrimination in ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579970">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers training in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579971">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her peers' economic background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579972">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her decision to attend college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579973">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers performing with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579974">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls training for the Second International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579975">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green talks about the pressure to lose weight in ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579976">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls training for the Second International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579977">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers partnering with Clover Mathis</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579978">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls auditioning for the Second International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579979">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her experiences at the Second International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579980">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls the Sixth International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579981">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers meeting her husband</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579982">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes the Seventh International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579983">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her transition to dance instruction</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579984">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls Claire Haywood's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579985">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls integration of the Capitol Ballet Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579986">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her audiences in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579987">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers Mayor Marion Barry's support for the arts</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579988">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls dancing with the Washington Ballet Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579989">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls acceptance at the Washington Ballet Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579990">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls teaching at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579991">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers her mother's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579992">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers her father's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579993">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls the 1988 benefit performance of Capitol Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579994">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her aneurysm</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579995">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her aneurysm recovery</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579996">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her daughter's career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579997">Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green reflects upon her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579998">Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579999">Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green reflects upon her future</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/580000">Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Sandra Fortune-Green narrates her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$7

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Sandra Fortune-Green describes her teachers at the School of American Ballet in New York City
Sandra Fortune-Green recalls the 1988 benefit performance of Capitol Ballet
Transcript
And so for example in 1961 or '62 [1962], you were in New York City [New York, New York] at the School of American Ballet, the premier institution for ballet instruction in the country, in the world perhaps (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Um-hm. And I went in the building just like everybody else. And I was taught just like everybody else.$$Tell me about--$$I remember I was in a class, Madame Tumkovsky [Antonina Tumkovsky], she was a Russian ballet instructor. And I was also in the class with Bujones, Fernando Bujones, gold medalist in Varna [Bulgaria] of the year. He was in my ballet class. Level two, that's what it was. And I remember I liked Tumkovsky because she was, she was commanding and the whole tone of someone who speaks Russian and they're speaking English, they always sound like they're fussing. So I was like, "My God, this woman's fussing all day long." But she kind of really wasn't. And she liked me for some reason. And I remember she called this girl a dummkopf, which is stupid, because this girl was obviously having some problems with left and right (laughter), so. So that was kind of like the joke in the class with this white girl who's she calling dummkopf. And I liked Madame Alexandra Tumkovsky [sic.]. I liked her. I liked her approach and I guess when I think back on it, probably why I liked her was because she taught everybody, and as a teacher, that's what she is supposed to do. Now these other pretentious teachers who only teach the talented children, as far as I'm concerned, that's not teaching 'cause it's easy to teach somebody who's talented 'cause you don't have to do that much work. But you try to work with somebody who's not so talented, and look at your results at the end of the year. Then you can evaluate your own pedagogy. So I can remember being a little nervous when George Balanchine and Diana Abrams [ph.] came into the studio to take attendance or take notes or whatever they were doing. They were pointing and talking and writing. And I always thought they were talking about me, I did. I said, "Oh god, okay Sandra [HistoryMaker Sandra Fortune-Green] get yourself together and you know, you lose your scholarship and Miss Jones [HistoryMaker Doris Jones] is gonna kill you," you know. So--but I went in that building just like everybody else. And I never for once thought that I didn't belong there.$$Were you ever treated any differently?$$Well maybe in ways that I was too immature and naive to notice. You know I can remember one teacher in particular who would walk past me, you know 'cause you walk the line. And she would say something to the girl in front. She would skip me, and then she would say something to the girl in back of me. Now I remember her, but it kind of--it didn't, it didn't bother me because this particular teacher, her approach was kind of like--I thought she was really not my style, so it didn't affect me. I liked Tumkovsky because her, her, her tone was commanding, her tone was energizing, her voice could drive you. And she was, she was more engaging in her teaching and her students. And this other lady was detached and I didn't like her style. So the fact that she wouldn't say anything to me, it didn't really bother me.$How did you I guess channel your emotions? Were you still dancing?$$Let's see, let's see '84 [1984]. Well no, but I was still very much, I was really into my teaching at that point. I really, really was. My head was, was in teaching for real now. There was still conversation about revitalizing Capitol Ballet [Capitol Ballet Company], and actually it did come back for a hot minute in 1988. We had a benefit performance as, as a kickoff to the revitalization. And that performance really was the last time I performed. We had guest artists of [HistoryMaker] Louis Johnson. We had Chita Rivera. We had--April Barry from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed. We had Sylvester Campbell. We had Hinton Battle. Miss Jones [HistoryMaker Doris Jones] resurrected everybody, and it was wonderful. However, it was a brilliant kickoff. It was kind of like a family reunion, it was at The Kennedy Center [The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.] in the Eisenhower Theater, but it didn't actually kickoff. So that was my last time performing for real. Now I just play around with stuff, so.$$And what did you perform that night?$$I did the pas de deux from 'Don Q' ['Don Quixote'] with Sylvester Campbell.$$Do you remember what the experience was like on the stage that night at The Kennedy Center?$$It was daunting. When I look at the videotape now, you can see that, you can see a little tension in my face. But you know when--but that's me, that's who I am, you know. So that was--luckily I was able to retrieve the, the video from that event out of this building as I sought--continued to look through Miss Jones' estate. So I have that as a part of my archival collection.$$Could you hear the audience or the see audience from the stage, or did you tune 'em out?$$You don't pay that any attention, because your mind is not on that (laughter). You just know that when it's time for the pirouettes, you better be on your legs. So that's where your, that's where your head is, or at least that's where it should be.$$How are you received at the end?$$Well, yeah. Because I think in D.C. [Washington, D.C.], it is something that is so needed, and over the years Capitol Ballet has had great support. Even if it's no more than buying a ticket. We've never had the kind of salary support. We've never toured or anything like that. There was a time where we, we danced at the black colleges [HBCUs]. But in terms of a real (air quotes) touring season, we just didn't have the, the financial support to do that kind of a thing.$$Were all of the administration support you mentioned, [HistoryMaker] Marion Barry, Sharon Pratt Kelly [HistoryMaker Sharon Pratt], was she supportive as well?$$Um-hm. We always were very well supported through D.C. Commission on the Arts [D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities], and National Endowment [National Endowment for the Arts], and any private donors that Miss Haywood [Claire Haywood] and Miss Jones knew. They were very, very strategic and had a different kind of what I would say unorthodox way of doing whatever they wanted to do.

Marjorie Witt Johnson

Dancer, social worker, dance instructor and daughter of a Buffalo Soldier, Marjorie Witt Johnson was born on March 18, 1910 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Her father, William Henry Brown Witt, served in the United States 10th Cavalry under Colonel Charles Young at Fort D.A. Russell. Growing up, Johnson lived in Taylorville and attended Corllett School. Johnson transferred to Churchill School, Cheyenne Junior High School and graduated from Cheyenne High School in 1929. That summer Johnson’s mother, Pearl Melvina Pryor, took her to New York City where she saw her uncle Hayes Pryor perform with the Lafayette Players. High School history teacher, Eldridge Hubbard helped her gain admission into Oberlin College in 1930. Her education was donated by Cheyenne’s Women’s Club and the Searchlight Club. At Oberlin, Johnson was introduced to modern dance by Margery Schneider, and she was influenced by the work of Ruth St. Denis and Martha Graham.

Graduating from Oberlin with a B.S. degree in social work in 1935, Johnson served as a dance counselor for Camp Chippewa where she developed a talent for working with inner city girls. She formed a group called the Playhouse Settlement Dance Group. Eventually they became the Karamu Dancers as part of Karamu House. The group gained notoriety and was selected to perform at the 1940 World’s Fair in New York City. Johnson, building on Grace Coyle’s study, Democracy and Group Work, taught the girls modern dance by incorporating their own life experiences with oral history and music. Among her notable dance works are “Barbeque,” “Tea Time,” “Braham’s Rhapsody in G Minor,” “The Sermon,” and the underground railroad play, From House to House, which was performed in Nigeria as Lati Ile’ si Ile’. Two of her notable students are Royce Wallace and Roger Mae Johnson. In Atlanta, Johnson inspired Morehouse College student body president, Michael Babatunde Olatunji to play his drums in public.

Johnson has been celebrated by the City of Cleveland and numerous other organizations for her more than 70 years of service in promoting arts in education. Recently, Karamu House showcased Daughter of a Buffalo Soldier, which was directed and choreographed by Dianne McIntyre.

Johnson, who was married to the late actor, Bill Johnson, has a daughter and is still active as a community activist, role model and innovator in Cleveland. She is the author of the book, Moving Images of Courage. Johnson passed away on July 19, 2007.

Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 22, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.048

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/22/2006

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Witt

Organizations
Schools

Cheyenne High School

Corlett School

Churchill Public School

Cheyenne Junior High School

Oberlin College

Case Western Reserve University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marjorie

Birth City, State, Country

Cheyenne

HM ID

JOH17

Favorite Season

April

State

Wyoming

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/18/1910

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fruit

Death Date

7/19/2007

Short Description

Dance instructor and dancer Marjorie Witt Johnson (1910 - 2007 ) formed a dance group that became part of Karamu House. Johnson has been celebrated by the City of Cleveland and numerous organizations for her more than 70 years of service in promoting arts in education.

Employment

Karamu House

Bellefaire Orphanage

Atlanta University

Favorite Color

Blue, Rose

Timing Pairs
0,0:294,4:12890,221:16330,286:18170,321:18570,327:34998,488:35677,496:37035,517:40690,546:41890,559:42290,564:49426,641:49961,648:50710,657:55222,695:55966,706:59294,734:61118,749:67350,834:67750,839:69350,859:70450,871:72950,903:91434,1174:92422,1193:95538,1253:108754,1412:111683,1454:128075,1648:128500,1654:130115,1679:130625,1686:138880,1933$0,0:4324,126:4692,131:5060,136:5520,142:6348,154:7084,164:14686,226:18212,273:18986,287:19416,293:35160,496:35484,501:39696,578:42774,635:43422,707:54844,782:56572,806:57340,815:57724,826:59260,850:67534,932:67944,938:69174,955:72208,1015:73110,1030:83230,1153:89362,1257:90198,1279:95140,1346
DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/361241">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marjorie Witt Johnson's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/361242">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/361243">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/361244">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes how her parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/361245">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/361246">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her family settling in Cheyenne, Wyoming</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/361247">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her father's experiences in the U.S. Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/361248">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/361249">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344205">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers the landscape of Cheyenne, Wyoming</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344206">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls the diversity of her U.S. Army housing complex</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344207">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls accidentally causing a fire in Taylorville, Wyoming, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344208">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls accidentally causing a prairie fire in Taylorville, Wyoming, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344209">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers seeing buffalo near Taylorville, Wyoming</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344210">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes Taylorville's Native American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344211">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her elementary schools in Cheyenne, Wyoming</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344212">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls a teacher's remarks about her complexion</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344213">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marjorie Witt Johnson talks about her segregated childhood community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344214">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes class differences between Cheyenne's African Methodist Episcopal and Baptist churches</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/342324">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her family's light complexions</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/342325">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers how she discovered her talent for dancing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/342326">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls learning about slavery from her teacher, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/342327">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls learning about slavery from her teacher, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/342328">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers her decision to attend Oberlin College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/342329">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her dancing experiences at Oberlin College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/342330">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her parents' opinion of her dancing aspirations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344432">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her experiences at Oberlin College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344433">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls teaching dance at Camp Chippewa</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344434">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers forming the Karamu Dancers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344435">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes the Karamu Dancers' first performance, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344436">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recounts the Karamu Dancers' first performance, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344437">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls the Karamu Dancers' performance at the New York World's Fair</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344438">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marjorie Witt Johnson explains what inspired the Karamu Dancers' choreography</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344439">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her choreography to Johannes Brahms' 'Rhapsody in G Minor'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344223">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her accompanist, Lois A. Perry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344224">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her introduction to African music and meeting Babatunde Olatunji</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344225">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her work with Roger Mae Johnson and Babatunde Olatunji</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344226">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls traveling to Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344227">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers social worker Grace Coyle</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344228">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes 'Daughter of a Buffalo Soldier,' a dance in her honor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344229">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marjorie Witt Johnson reflects upon her life and legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344230">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marjorie Witt Johnson shares her philosophy of art</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344231">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes William E. Smith's artwork</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/344232">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson narrates her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her parents' opinion of her dancing aspirations
Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her choreography to Johannes Brahms' 'Rhapsody in G Minor'
Transcript
Now what was your major in college [Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio]?$$I, I, I didn't, I got caught up with the conflict in my mind, and with what daddy [William Witt] and momma [Pearl Pryor Witt] thought about it because when I went out there at, at Christmastime, and said to them, "I thought I'd like to, to follow the dance world." And daddy got, got angry, very angry. He said, "I thought you wanted to be somebody." I said, "I will be somebody." And, and mother said, "We hadn't thought about it--dancing as somebody." And I was simply disappointed that they did not see what I saw, and, so I said, I don't know. And then, that's when I began to falter in directions, and not knowing what I was going to do, and, and but I still steadily went on. And, and it was through meeting Corrine's [Corrine Johnson Falope] father, Bill Johnson, who was an outstanding actor, and, and when I told him about the dancing and my folks' disappointment, he said, "Well, why don't you go ahead and be, be a dancer and, and be good at it? But I don't know about jobs for it at all." I said, "No, I'll find them." I said, "Look at the theatre." He said, "Well, the theatre is different." And I knew it was because my uncle [Hayes Pryor] was, and I liked what he had in it, you know. And then, so, this, the fellow--well, maybe, and I had, was liking him, that maybe by marrying him, and going ahead at, with my, with my life and drama and dance, I could make it. But I got really confused, and I got lost in the, in the, in the, in the making the decision. And it was the teachers when you went, met at their homes, and they would say, there are other opportunities, and then, that's when they told me about Karamu--$$Okay.$$--and the possibility.$$(CORRINE JOHNSON FALOPE): But it wasn't Karamu in those days. It was Settlement House [sic. Playhouse Settlement; Karamu House, Cleveland, Ohio].$$It, it was a settlement at that--$Now, you did one dance to Brahms' [Johannes Brahms] 'Rhapsody'--$$'In G minor' ['Rhapsody in G Minor'].$$'In G minor,' okay.$$That came about because the girls, at first, didn't like what they call, high class music. But the girl who played for them girls, she said, "But have you ever heard Brahms' 'Rhapsody in, in G minor'?" "No, no other kind of rhapsody, they'd say." And so, she played it. And then, they begin to take off on the, the beat--there's got a beat to it. Oh, and, and they were just mimicking the sounds and how it made them feel. And I said, "Look, you know, that's the dance." And, and, slowly and surely, I would get them to see it in choreography. And as it came more alive to them, they got, so that they would hear what they wanted to hear, and they would move to what make sense to them. And when I saw that, then I knew I had a real dance. And so, when the girl [Lois A. Perry] played, she was a great musician, played Brahms' 'Rhapsody in G Minor,' and she came to a part in it where they was emphasizing the base (unclear), that they would do certain movements. And, and it went on as she played, and the more she played Brahms' 'Rhapsody,' the more they loved it. And so, it became one of the pieces. And we didn't change it, give it no name, but just let their movements tell the story of how they felt.

Muriel W. Foster

Dance instructor and arts administrator Muriel Foster was born Muriel Burns, January 16, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother, Hattie was from Dayton, Ohio and her father, William D. Burns, a veteran vaudevillian and one of the Four Harmony Kings, was from Denver, Colorado. Foster started dance instructions at age four with Sadie Bruce. In 1941, she enrolled in the school of her father’s friend from “Shuffle Along” Sammy Dyer. She attended Carter Elementary School and while still in school Foster and four of her friends, Shirley Hall, Jean Cornell, Clarice White, and Gloria Broussard started performing as the sensational “Dyerettes.” Under Dyer’s tutelage, Foster still graduated from DuSable High School in 1948 all the while still performing with Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole, Benny Green, Ruth Brown, Roy Hamilton, Tito Puente, Billy Eckstine and other greats. Earning an A.A. degree from Wilson Junior College in 1951, Foster continued to tour the United States and Canada. Known for their polished professionalism and unexpected acrobatics, the Dyerettes performed at the Club DeLisa, the Lafayette Theatre and the Apollo Theatre.

Foster married Bobby Wilson, a baseball player with the Dodgers, in 1955 and continued to perform through 1956. However, as other members got married, the Dyerettes retired. Divorced, Foster worked in the Personnel Department at Wieboldt’s Department Stores in Chicago until the stores went bankrupt in 1988. Since 1988, Foster has been Human Resources coordinator for Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, but, despite a full career, Foster has actively supported the Sammy Dyer School of Theatre. Over the years the school has produced performers like George Patterson, Tedd Levy, Brill Barrett and Geraldine Johnson. When Mr. Dyer away passed in 1960, Dyerette, Shirley Hall directed the school from 1960 to 1998. Foster has been the director of the school since 1998.

Accession Number

A2004.261

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/14/2004

1/9/2005

Last Name

Foster

Maker Category
Middle Name

W.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Du Sable Leadership Academy

William W. Carter Elementary School

Kennedy–King College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Muriel

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

FOS03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/16/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Macaroni, Cheese

Short Description

Dance instructor Muriel W. Foster (1931 - ) is the director of the Sammy Dyer School of Theatre and a former member of the 1950s dance group, The Dyerettes.

Employment

Weiboldt Stores

Merchandise Mart

Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre

The Dyerettes

Favorite Color

Green

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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261127">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Muriel W. Foster's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261128">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Muriel W. Foster lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261129">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Muriel W. Foster describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261130">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Muriel W. Foster explains how her parents met in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261131">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Muriel W. Foster describes her father's family background, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261132">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Muriel W. Foster describes her father's family background, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261133">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Muriel W. Foster talks about her likeness to her vaudevillian father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261134">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Muriel W. Foster remembers her father ending his vaudeville career to be with their family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261135">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Muriel W. Foster describes her childhood homes on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261136">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Muriel W. Foster describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261137">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Muriel W. Foster talks about her childhood dance and voice lessons</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261138">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Muriel W. Foster describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261139">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Muriel W. Foster lists her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261140">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Muriel W. Foster describes her childhood personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261141">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Muriel W. Foster recalls her favorite subjects in school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261142">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Muriel W. Foster remembers enjoying her schooling in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261143">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Muriel W. Foster remembers beginning her professional dance career during her time at DuSable High School in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261144">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Muriel W. Foster remembers Sammy Davis, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261145">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Muriel W. Foster recalls sharing a love of performance with her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261146">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Muriel W. Foster remembers Sammy Dyer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261147">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Muriel W. Foster recalls her early work with the Dyerettes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261148">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Muriel W. Foster remembers dancing in 'The Swing Mikado' with the Dyerettes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261149">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Muriel W. Foster talks about Gloria Broussard and Shirley Hall Bass of the Dyerettes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261150">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Muriel W. Foster talks about Clarice White Pruitt and Jeannie Cornell Robinson of the Dyerettes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261151">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Muriel W. Foster recalls her education at Woodrow Wilson Junior College in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261152">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Muriel W. Foster talks about her husband, baseball player Bobby Wilson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260986">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Muriel W. Foster remembers performing in Hawaii with the Dyerettes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260987">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Muriel W. Foster recalls performing in the South with the Dyerettes, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260988">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Muriel W. Foster recalls performing in the South with the Dyerettes, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260989">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Muriel W. Foster recalls her perception of the Civil Rights Movement while touring in the South</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260990">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Muriel W. Foster remembers lessons from her father in dealing with discrimination</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260991">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Muriel W. Foster recalls being welcomed at an all-white Christian Scientist church in Mississippi while travelling with the Dyerettes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260992">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Muriel W. Foster recalls highlights from her career with the Dyerettes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260993">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Muriel W. Foster talks about the injury that nearly ended her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260994">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Muriel W. Foster remembers leaving show business to start a family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260995">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Muriel W. Foster recalls the difficulty of travelling with her husband's baseball team</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260996">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Muriel W. Foster remembers starting her career as a dance teacher after leaving the Dyerettes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260997">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Muriel W. Foster talks about working as Weiboldt Stores' first African American personnel manager</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260998">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Muriel W. Foster explains how the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre acquired an offshoot in the Bahamas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/260999">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Muriel W. Foster describes her current work at Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre and Merchandise Mart</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261000">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Muriel W. Foster explains how Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre is funded</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261001">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Muriel W. Foster talks about the status of the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261002">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Muriel W. Foster remembers teaching Ted Louis Levy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261003">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Muriel W. Foster recalls Ted Louis Levy teaching at Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261004">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Muriel W. Foster talks about the alumni of the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261005">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Muriel W. Foster talks about the future of the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261006">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Muriel W. Foster describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261007">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Muriel W. Foster reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261008">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Muriel W. Foster reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261009">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Muriel W. Foster talks about her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261010">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Muriel W. Foster explains how Sammy Dyer's legacy is upheld at the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261011">Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Muriel W. Foster describes her hopes for the future of the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261012">Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Muriel W. Foster describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/261153">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Muriel W. Foster narrates her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Muriel W. Foster recalls performing in the South with the Dyerettes, pt. 1
Muriel W. Foster remembers teaching Ted Louis Levy
Transcript
What was it like to travel in those days, for a black performer traveling around the United States? I mean, what were the restrictions? I mean, did you--were you ever booked to travel the South (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) It was okay if you weren't in the South, very strict--oh, yes, we--$$(Simultaneous) Well, what happened?$$The guys, well, like when we [the Dyerettes] did this one tour that we did, the guys would have us, when we would stop at a place to eat, we would get out and get the food for the guys so that there would be no hassle, 'cause they could see. And they could see that you're coming from the North. They'd figure that, so many times, that the people coming from the North are troublemakers, you know. And so, consequently, we would go in, you know, and get the food. And it's a funny thing; human nature is so funny. I'd always go to--go up, and I'd say, "Where is your back door?" And that always threw 'em off. And I'd say, "Don't we have to go in the back door?" And they'd look, "What do you want?" "Well, we're trying to get some food." "Who are with?" "Well, we've been with [Count] Basie. We've been with all kinds of, you know, acts." Four Tops we did a lot with them. We had a lot fun, though, when we were traveling with the Four Tops, 'cause they, we're all the same age, you know. And we had met them here in Chicago [Illinois], so we had fun with them. And then we had just a--forgive me fellows--but not a unknown band but not a, with a leader that you would, you know, know, just some musicians. And that was a lot of fun. But there and again, we would do the--we would get off and do for the food and so forth. And then we would have to make sure, more than making sure, we'd have to usually stay in a rooming house, because we didn't even stay in hotels. We would stay in rooming houses, people who had their homes open for entertainers. And they probably made a nice dollar, you know. And boy, you'll get those good home cooked meals, so I had no complaints, you know. But, it was an experience. In Georgia, we had some experiences there. I think we went downtown, and oh, it was blazing hot, and we had on shorts. And they said, "Colored girls don't wear shorts downtown." And we said--$$Colored girls don't wear shorts downtown?$$"Colored girls don't wear shorts downtown," and we said, "What?" And we said, "Well, those--" "Well, no," he said, "You can't wear shorts. Don't you girls know?" And we said, "Well, look at those girls." Then he said, "Colored girls." It was a policeman. "Colored girls can't wear shorts."$$Well, did he ever explain why colored girls couldn't wear--$$"I don't make the rules. " That's what we all, we'd always say, "Why?" "I don't make the rules;" you know, "I don't make the rules." So, that was quite an experience or the first experience. We had heard about it but to experience having to go to find the black water fountain, and the black water fountain is here, and the white water fountain is there. And you splashing water on each other, only but you're drinking out of here. And that was, you know, it just seemed ridiculous, you know, and yet, their kids are playing together, and they're living in--it was, it was weird. It was just really, really, really, really weird, that I couldn't understand. And I--and yet, in the back of mind, I didn't want to be accused of being a troublemaker, you know, 'cause you could make trouble for--I said, these people have, they have--they're adjusted to this, you know--got on an empty bus. Well, it was almost empty. And I was wondering why all, all of the--then, 'cause they weren't using the word black--all of the colored were all back, and I was saying--so I flopped down. When I got on, and I flopped, and the driver looked. And he didn't say--he says, "Where are you gals from?" And we said, "Chicago." And he, so he said, "I'm sorry, but you have to go to the back." And I said, "But all these seats are empty." He said, "I don't make the rules." I was always--that was always the thing: "I don't make the rules." But we had to go to the back, and it was all these empty seats. But we were not allowed to sit down. We had to go to the back of the bus. And you know, you've heard about 'em, but you didn't really realize how stupid it's in until--now why do we have to leave all of those empty seats, you know? Or you go, went in a shoe store, and you couldn't try on the shoe, but you could buy them. And I said, "But supposing they don't fit, are you gonna take 'em back?" "No, you're supposed to know your size." "I'll get some shoes when I get home," you know. To me those things were just so, even in a segregated era, that just seems so way out.$What have been some of the highlights of the [Sammy Dyer] School [of the Theatre, Chicago, Illinois], you know?$$Yeah, one of my favorite students is Ted [Louis] Levy. And I don't know if you're familiar with Ted or not. Ted Levy, he's--$$Well, tell everybody 'cause I'm not the only one who's--$$Ted Levy--I'm sorry--who has now been on Broadway in 'Black and Blue,' he works a lot with Savion Glover. He travels; he goes to Europe and so forth doing workshops. Ted came up through the school, and he's one of those--I think, I was talking earlier in the day before we started the interview about all students don't start at, like, as a little child. Some start at an older age and really become quite good performers and professionals and so forth. I think Ted was about thirteen or fourteen, I believe, when he came to our school, but he was just a natural. Some of, some people are just gifted, you know. He needed to have his talents; he needed them to be developed, but it was there. And he was a joy to teach. I've never liked teaching a private lesson, never, ever, except with Ted, because he was one of those rare students that whatever you gave him, I don't care how difficult you tried to make the step, he was going to get it. So he was actually a challenge to the teacher, you know. He was a beautiful personality. All the kids, starting from when he was very young, they all were crazy about him. When I felt that I had given him all that, well, that both Shirley [Hall Bass] and I, that we had given him all that we could give him, I contacted Finis Henderson. And I had mentioned him earlier as being a fantastic black dancer. And I asked, and he was certainly had been retired for quite a while, and I asked if he would come over and look at Teddy. And he said, "I'm not coming out of retirement," and he says "I, you know, I don't want--" I said, "Just do me a favor. Come over and see this young man, and I think you'll change your mind." And we were getting ready for one of our shows, one of our annual shows. And so he came over, and he saw Teddy dancing, immediate, just immediate admiration. And then he worked with Teddy for another, a number of years, and he became Teddy's second mentor. Shirley and I were the first, but by far, Finis Henderson came in and put on the finishing touches, you know. Because we felt it would be so selfish to hold him back. You know, you can tell when you've given a person all that you can give them; then, it's just repetitious. But he was a person that you knew could grow, and we wanted him to grow. And we felt that he would have been dedicated enough to stay with us, you know, as long as we needed him, not allowing himself to grow. So this way it just, in turn, he was so appreciative of what we had done, by putting him with Finis and not taking him away from the school but just under his, you know, tutelage, that he became more dedicated, you know, to us.

Joel Hall

Joseph “Joel” Hall was born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 20, 1949. Hall began his dancing career in 1968 under the tutelage of Ed Parrish, and the following year, he moved to New York City, where he studied under Denise Jefferson. Returning to Chicago, he earned his B.A. degree in sociology from Northeastern Illinois University in 1972.

In 1974, Hall and Joseph Ehrenberg co-founded the Chicago City Theatre Company, which later became the Joel Hall Dance Center. Hall now serves as the artistic director and principal choreographer for the Joel Hall Dancers, and director and chief instructor of the training studio. Over the years, the Joel Hall Dancers have gained an international reputation and Hall has been widely acclaimed as a choreographer. His company has performed three seasons at the prestigious Joyce Theater in New York, and he has led the company on nine international tours, beginning with the Glasgow May Fest in 1985. Hall has created ballets for the Chicago City Ballet, the Zenon Dance Company in Minneapolis and Ballet Tennessee in Chattanooga, as well as choreographing the opera The Pearl Fishers at the Chicago Opera Theatre and Goldie Hawn’s film, Wildcats. In 1991, Hall choreographed the 50th Anniversary presentation of Duke Ellington’s musical Jump for Joy. In addition to these productions, he has created more than forty ballets for his own company.

Hall has also gained attention as an instructor of jazz dance. He has taught at Wayne State University, New York State University, Northern Illinois University, and Western Michigan University. He has also taught internationally, conducting classes in Liverpool, Glasgow, Inverness, Kirkcaldy, Belfast, and the United Kingdom. At the time of the interview, the Joel Hall Dance Center in Chicago offeredA2004.170 more than 150 classes a week to students ranging from age three to adults.

Accession Number

A2004.238

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/24/2004

Last Name

Hall

Maker Category
Middle Name

Lewis

Organizations
Schools

Edward Jenner Elementary Academy of the Arts

St. Dominic's Elementary School

Austin O. Sexton Elementary School

Walter L. Newberry Math & Science Academy Elementary School

Cooley Vocational High School and Upper Grade Center

Lincoln Park High School

Northeastern Illinois University

Near North Career Magnet High School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Joel

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

HAL09

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Live life fully, richly, honestly and love every single second of it.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/20/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken Salad

Short Description

Choreographer and dance instructor Joel Hall (1949 - ) co-founded the Chicago City Theatre Company, which later became the Joel Hall Dance Center. He has created over forty ballets, and has taught at several universities. His company has performed three seasons at the prestigious Joyce Theater in New York, and he has led the company on nine international tours, beginning with the Glasgow May Fest in 1985.

Employment

Chicago City Theatre Company

Favorite Color

Teal

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/7998">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Joel Hall Slating</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/7999">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joel Hall Favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8000">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joel Hall shares the story of his mother's institutionalization</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8001">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joel Hall discusses his mother's background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8002">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joel Hall remembers his stepmother, Annie Laura Young</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8003">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joel Hall discusses his father's background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8004">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joel Hall details his family's migration from the South</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8005">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joel Hall shares some early childhood memories</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8006">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joel Hall recalls the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8007">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Joel Hall shares some childhood anecdotes and influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8008">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joel Hall details his elementary school education in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8009">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joel Hall recalls family financial difficulties affecting his education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8010">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joel Hall describes favorite subjects and teachers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8011">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joel Hall reminisces about his neighborhood, Cabrini Green</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8012">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joel Hall leaves home at age 13 and ends up in juvenile hall</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8013">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joel Hall describes life in the Illinois Youth Commission, a delinquent boys facility</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8014">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joel Hall reflects on his lack of formal education while incarcerated</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8015">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joel Hall attends the Central YMCA Community College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8016">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Joel Hall recalls the rising Black Arts Movement and political events</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8017">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Joel Hall begins to think about dance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8018">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Joel Hall moves to New York City to study dance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8019">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joel Hall discusses his move to New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8020">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joel Hall describes his life in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8021">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joel Hall returns to Chicago to start his dance company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8022">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joel Hall discusses the Chicago City Theater Company and his integrated dance troupe</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8023">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joel Hall charts the early successes of his dance company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8024">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joel Hall recalls his mentor, choreographer Talley Beatty</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8025">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joel Hall examines the influence of black dancers on modern dance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8026">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joel Hall recalls his dance company contemporaries</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8027">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joel Hall shares his experiences with the Joel Hall Dance Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8028">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joel Hall offers highlights from the Joel Hall Dance Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8029">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joel Hall remembers dancers from the Joel Hall Dance Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8030">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joel Hall highlights local up and coming dance talent</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8031">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joel Hall praises notable dance troupes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8032">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joel Hall shares his hopes and concerns for the black community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8033">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joel Hall notes his family's thoughts on his success</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8034">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joel Hall wouldn't change a thing if he did it all over again</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8035">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joel Hall discusses how AIDS decimated the arts community and his battle with prostate cancer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8036">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joel Hall wants to leave a legacy as a teacher and mentor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8037">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joel Hall hopes his interivew benefits others</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8038">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joel Hall wants to be remembered as a man with a larger vision</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8039">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Photo - Publicity photo of Joel Hall in 'My Love', a dance performance he choreographed, ca. 1967-1968</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8040">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Photo - Publicity photo of Joel Hall with other dancers in the performance of 'Chain of Fools'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8041">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Publicity photo of Joel Hall the dance performance of 'My Love'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8042">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Publicity photo of Joel Hall with Ana Cha Yuen in a performance of 'Holy Holy'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8043">Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - Joel Hall portrait, ca. 1960s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8044">Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Joel Hall performs 'Night Walker', Chicago, Illinois, 1974-1975</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8045">Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Photo - Joel Hall with Gus Giordano and Ann Barzel, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 2000-2004</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8046">Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Photo - Joel Hall with Gerald Arpino, Ann Barzel and Frank Chavez, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 2000-2004</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8047">Tape: 5 Story: 16 - Photo - Joel Hall's maternal grandmother, Emma Hanzinbraugh, ca. late 1800s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8048">Tape: 5 Story: 17 - Photo - Joel Hall with Joel Hall Dance Company members Merrick Mitchell and Vanessa Truvillion</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8049">Tape: 5 Story: 18 - Photo - Lewis and Emma Lee Hall, ca. 1940s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8050">Tape: 5 Story: 19 - Photo - Joel Hall's family celebrating his father's marriage to his stepmother, ca. 1950s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8051">Tape: 5 Story: 20 - Photo - Award given to Joel Hall by Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, Illinois, September 13, 2001</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/8052">Tape: 5 Story: 21 - Photo - Poster from the Joel Hall Dancers' European tour, London, England, ca. 1980s</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

10$4

DATitle
Joel Hall begins to think about dance
Joel Hall discusses how AIDS decimated the arts community and his battle with prostate cancer
Transcript
Now, now, this is a tough situation to imagine someone thinking about being a dancer. Did you think about dance or the arts in, in this facility or did you have any idea-- (simultaneously)?$$Not really. What I thought about in that facility was getting out of there. I was trying to think about what was gonna happen with the rest of my life. Dance happened with me very naturally after that because once I was out, there were friends of mine that I had known, actually prior to all--any of this, that I had known when I was much younger, who were taking classes on the North side, okay. And I happened to go along with them and, well, just to watch what that was all about. And that's how I got into a ballet class. I ended up in a ballet class.$$Now, whose class was it that you--?$$There was--his name is [Eldon Day] Ed Parish. And he was, he had a studio actually up on Kedzie [Avenue] at that time.$$So is this 1967 or '68 [1968]?$$This was, yeah, about sixty, '68 [1968], maybe '67 [1967], '68 [1968]. And through Ed's class, I started taking class at, with a woman by the name of Frances, down on Van Buren [Street] and Wabash [Avenue]. She had a corner studio there, Frances Alice was her name. And that was a modern class. So I kind of found my way to dance through friends that were taking dance. And there was always something. I was one of those kids that could always move well. I could always dance well. I could always--in terms of neighborhood dance, I out dance anybody in the neighborhood. So for me it was a natural, kind of a natural progression to move in that direction, artistically, to the, to the artistic end of dance.$$What were some of the dances that were out when you were a teenager that you could do? I mean--?$$Oh, my goodness, well, one of the big dances was the twist, of course, the slide, the jerk, and just freestyle, freestyle was pretty, pretty big when I was much younger.$$Now, they hadn't started to [pop and] lock and that sort of thing yet, right?$$No, they hadn't started [popping and] locking yet. That came, that came a little later.$$Okay, I was wondering if--did you have, did you--were you aware of the dance world, really, as a profession, you know, when you were that age or did you--(unclear)?$$Not really, I mean that was all, that was all very alien to me. It was all very alien to me. And actually, I did not really learn about the dance world until I had started taking classes, as I said, with these other people. And found out that there was this whole area of the arts that was called 'dance'. And that's how I got, became involved in it. I ended up, actually, leaving Chicago [Illinois] and moving to New York [New York] to study dance.$Okay, and when you were, then the dance company was at, was at its, was growing to its height, I guess during the, when the, the time when the AIDS epidemic came in.$$Yes.$$And a lot of people in the arts were really affected by that. Do you have any comments about that?$$Well, I, certainly, it has devastated our community completely. There is a whole layer of people my age level that are missing, who were artists, completely wiped off of the face of the earth. Boom, gone. And I feel very privileged to even be on the planet, number one, in spite of any, any medical issues. I am at this point dealing with prostate cancer in my life, which is a new and interesting challenge. And fortunately, I caught it at a time that I was able to be able to do something about the fact that it has occurred, but many, many, many men do not have that opportunity. And I see, through this treatment that I'm going through presently that they just don't ever go to check. And that's the reason that they don't know. And by the time they do go to check, they're laying on a slab. And it's a little bit too late. So it's, this, this issue with cancer that I mentioned, it had always been a word that was outside of my world in terms of per--anything personal. I mean my father died from liver cancer, and my mother died from natural causes, my real mother. But I didn't somehow associate that with, with my ever having cancer. And all of a sudden, boom, one day you have cancer. Well, and then what do you do about that? How will you approach that? How you--how will you deal with that and how does that affect your work? How does that affect your art? It'll be interesting to see what happens over the next several years and how that has affected me. But I feel stronger as a result of having this experience. I feel that I have had it, and I'm glad that I had it when I did because I would rather have had it now than had it later when they could not have done anything about it. So my advice to you, my brother, is to go get a PSA [prostate specific antigen] every year, just to know, for your own information where you stand because in African American men particularly, we never go. The reason we never go is because--well, there are many reasons. The primary reason is because of the Tuskegee experiments, really. But we are--.$$And that's among those who should know better. They know about--they've read enough to know about that, so they don't go, but--.$$Right.$$--but those who don't know any better never go anyway.$$But they do know better as a result of that. I mean see, they don't know any better because, because that happened, even though we don't know why African Amer--American men do not go to doctors. That would be the reason, handed down through generations without even mentioning it, by the behavior of our fathers and mothers and uncles and aunts. They never went, so why should we go? So even though, and even if they don't know the story, there's a reason for everything, you see. So as I said, I was fortunate enough to be able to catch it at a time that they feel that they're able to do something about it. So I'm, right now in a holding period before I go in for something called implant in which they implant radiated pellets into the prostate and kill the rest of the cancer. But I've had five weeks or radiation, external, which has been a very different kind of experience for a person to go through.$$Okay.$$But, again, I'm better--I'm better, I feel, as a result of that experience, just to know that it exists and to know that I can make it through this period.

Darlene Blackburn

Dancer and choreographer Darlene Blackburn was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 12, 1942. Her mother, Cora, was a homemaker and her stepfather, Richard, worked for the Ford Motor Company. The oldest of four children, Blackburn attended the Chicago Public Schools, earning her high school diploma in 1960. She later returned to school, earning her B.A. degree from Northeastern Illinois University in 1984 and her M.S. from Chicago State University in 1987.

Blackburn began dancing at an early age, and was heavily influenced by some of her teachers, including Jimmy Payne, Tommy Sutton, Lucille Evans and Tommy Gomez. In 1963, she first started becoming aware of her blackness through Phil Cohran, her life mentor, and that same year she founded the Darlene Blackburn Dance Troupe. Influenced by Margaret Burroughs to study ethnic dance, Blackburn traveled to Jamaica in 1967, studying with the Jamaica National Dance Company. She continued to study foreign dance techniques, spending time in Ghana and Nigeria in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Returning to the United States, Blackburn became the Artist-in-Residence at Purdue University in 1974, and she remained there until 1976. The following year, she, along with ten members of her dance troupe, were invited to Lagos, Nigeria, to participate in the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture. Following the enthusiastic response to their performance, Blackburn was invited to become the Artist-in-Residence at the University of Calabar in Nigeria, where she remained for the next three years. In 1983, Blackburn and her dancers began working with Urban Gateways – an arts education agency - in Chicago, and over the next few years they sent her throughout the Caribbean to study dance.

Blackburn has worked as a dance instructor at a number of institutions, including the Calumet Career Preparatory Academy, the Chicago Boys and Girls Club, the Goodman Theatre and Mostly Music, Inc. She has also served as choreographer for a number of productions, including “Benito Cereno” at the Goodman Theatre and “The Lion and the Jewel” at the University of Chicago. She has also been honored numerous times, including receiving the Outstanding Achievement in Dance award from Ladies of Distinction and the Alyo Award from the Muntu Theatre of Chicago.

Accession Number

A2004.120

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/9/2004

Last Name

Blackburn

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Organizations
Schools

Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School

Northeastern Illinois University

Chicago State University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Darlene

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BLA07

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - 0 - $500

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa, Caribbean

Favorite Quote

If You Work Hard, You Can Achieve Whatever You Want.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/12/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Mangoes

Short Description

Dancer and choreographer Darlene Blackburn (1942 - ) founded the Darlene Blackburn Dance Troupe, incorporating ethnic dancing that she studied while traveling in Jamaica and West Africa. She has worked as a dance instructor at numerous institutions and served as a choreographer for a number of productions.

Employment

Darlene Blackburn Dance Troup

Jamaica National Dance Company

Purdue University

University of Calabar

Urban Gateways

Calumet Career Preparatory Academy

Chicago Boys and Girls Club

Goodman Theater

Mostly Music, Inc.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:139210,1983$0,0:11542,72:21710,192:25790,258:55590,552:67669,701:78664,848:88784,1019:93131,1036:95640,1052:98190,1105:98490,1110:98790,1115:101115,1154:102465,1181:120156,1422:124817,1503:136034,1708:169453,2139:169745,2144:170183,2151:202130,2528
DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127655">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Darlene Blackburn's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127656">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Darlene Blackburn lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127657">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Darlene Blackburn talks about her mother's family background, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127658">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Darlene Blackburn talks about her mother's family background, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127659">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Darlene Blackburn describes her mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127660">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Darlene Blackburn describes her stepfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127661">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Darlene Blackburn describes her parents' dancing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127662">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Darlene Blackburn describes her earliest memories of singing and dancing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127663">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Darlene Blackburn talks about her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127664">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Darlene Blackburn describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood in Chicago, Illinois' Morgan Park neighborhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127665">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Darlene Blackburn describes growing up in the Morgan Park neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127666">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Darlene Blackburn describes her early childhood interest in art in elementary school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128305">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Darlene Blackburn talks about joining the Girls Scouts</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128306">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Darlene Blackburn describes transitioning from living in Morgan Park to Englewood in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128307">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Darlene Blackburn talks about being the new girl in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128308">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Darlene Blackburn describes attending Copernicus Elementary School in Englewood in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128309">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Darlene Blackburn describes traveling alone around Chicago, Illinois as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128310">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Darlene Blackburn describes trying to hide bad conduct grades from her mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128311">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Darlene Blackburn describes attending Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128312">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Darlene Blackburn describes the atmosphere in Chicago, Illinois' Englewood community while she was in high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128313">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Darlene Blackburn talks about teaching her first dance classes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128314">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Darlene Blackburn describes her studies in Chicago Teachers College's physical education department</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128315">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Darlene Blackburn talks about teaching dance classes and deciding to become a dancer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128316">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Darlene Blackburn describes the dance scene in Chicago, Illinois and her mother's reservations about her becoming a dancer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128317">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Darlene Blackburn talks about dancing in clubs on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128318">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Darlene Blackburn describes meeting percussionist Master Henry Gibson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128319">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Darlene Blackburn talks about HistoryMaker Philip "Phil" Cohran</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128320">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Darlene Blackburn talks about On the Beach</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128321">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Darlene Blackburn talks about artists she knew in the 1960s and 1970s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128322">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Darlene Blackburn talks about On the Beach and the beginnings of the Afro-Arts Theater</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128323">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Darlene Blackburn talks about Amiri Baraka's visit to the Afro-Arts Theater</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128324">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Darlene Blackburn talks about political and racial tensions surrounding the Afro-Arts Theater</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128325">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Darlene Blackburn talks about efforts to keep the Afro-Arts Theater operational</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128326">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Darlene Blackburn talks about the Black Arts community in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128327">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Darlene Blackburn talks about performances at the Afro-Arts Theater and the expected lifestyle of its artists</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128328">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Darlene Blackburn describes her family's reactions to her lifestyle</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128329">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Darlene Blackburn reflects on black pride</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128330">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Darlene Blackburn reflects on creative experimentation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128331">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Darlene Blackburn talks about yoga instructor Asar Hapi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128332">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Darlene Blackburn talks about the decline of the Afro-Arts Theater</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128333">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Darlene Blackburn talks about her first trip to Ghana in 1969</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128334">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Darlene Blackburn talks about losing her identity as a dancer while performing with HistoryMaker Katherine Dunham</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128335">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Darlene Blackburn talks about deciding to return to Chicago, Illinois after studying under HistoryMaker Katherine Dunham</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128336">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Darlene Blackburn talks about the Black Panthers and the Afro-Arts Theater</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128337">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Darlene Blackburn reflects on the atmosphere of the Afro-Arts Theater crowd</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128338">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Darlene Blackburn talks about her 1971 trip to Nigeria</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128339">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Darlene Blackburn talks about the origins of the Muntu Dance Theatre</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128340">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Darlene Blackburn talks about auditioning for HistoryMaker Ossie Davis' musical, 'Purlie'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128341">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Darlene Blackburn talks about touring with the musical 'Purlie'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128342">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Darlene Blackburn talks about taking dance classes in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128343">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Darlene Blackburn talks about her style of dancing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128344">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Darlene Blackburn talks about dance technique and avoiding injury</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128345">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Darlene Blackburn talks about attending Festac 77 in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128346">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Darlene Blackburn talks about attending Festac 77 in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128347">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Darlene Blackburn talks about living in Nigeria for two years</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128348">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Darlene Blackburn talks about teaching dance after returning to the U.S. after living in Nigeria</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128349">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Darlene Blackburn reflects on the arts and transitioning to focusing on choreographing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128350">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Darlene Blackburn talks about her dance philosophy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128351">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Darlene Blackburn reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128352">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Darlene Blackburn talks about her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128353">Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Darlene Blackburn reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128354">Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Darlene Blackburn talks about how her parents feel about her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/128355">Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Darlene Blackburn reflects upon how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127285">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Darlene Blackburn narrates her photographs, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/127286">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Darlene Blackburn narrates her photographs, pt. 2</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

11$9

DATitle
Darlene Blackburn talks about teaching dance classes and deciding to become a dancer
Darlene Blackburn talks about her style of dancing
Transcript
During this time did you, did you--now, who was teaching the class, teaching at Dunbar [High School, Chicago, Illinois]? Were you still taking classes at Dunbar?$$No, I was teaching at the Ys [YMCAs]. I started at Ashland Y [Chicago, Illinois], Woodlawn Y [Chicago, Illinois] picked me up. They wanted me to teach classes there. I was teaching dance classes out of my basement, because I, everybody wanted me to teach them what I was learning. And here we go back to again, I was telling you how I was in Morgan Park I started on the church steps promoting the little girls and stuff, teaching classes. I was so physical, remember I told you I was a gym leader at Lindblom [Technical High School, now Lindblom Math & Science Academy, Chicago, Illinois]. I was getting up the whole block of kids by that time in the summertime because we had to work on our physical fitness at six a.m. in the morning. I'm tapping on people's windows and stuff, talking about come on lets's go, let's go, we got to get fit. Let's run around the block. We got to get fit. Parents are having fits, waking up the whole block.$$That sounds--$$I guess what I'm saying and I didn't know none of that was gonna lead to any other thing. I'm just having big fun 'cause I'm really physically fit, you know, and I wanted everybody else to get fit like me. Parents were angry, like, would you tell your daughter not to knock on my window at no six o'clock in the morning.$$Okay. So you've got classes going so when you drop out of school you got classes going and stuff, so that's basically what you're doing for a living or--$$Right, I did that for a second because, of course, there wasn't any money, so I got a job finally at Illinois Bell [Telephone Company], information operator, and then I started taking professional classes 'cause I decided, I told my mom [Cora Blackburn] I decided, that's what I want to do.$$Okay, so this is 1962, '63 [1963].$$Uh hum. I decided I wanted to be a dancer.$(Unclear) is it, I know African dance is more popular now probably than it's ever been. I guess they had more troupes and had more people involved in African dancing. In those days it wasn't that easy to get people involved in it.$$Exactly. When I started with Urban Gateways and I went around in the schools with no shoes on, the kids was laughing, like ooh, she ain't got no shoes on. And Afro, oh please, all of that was, I used to go on stage I had to take a deep breath. I had to take a deep breath because here I was going home with my nappy head and no shoes on and I had, I mean, that made me a good dancer because I did flips, I stood on my head, I incorporated gymnastics in it. And, I mean, I did some things I haven't seen, and that was like, ha, can you handle this. I mean I would present it to the audience. I was always like that. Can you beat this, you know? The floor is hot, step on up here. I challenged 'em to come on up there with me. So I kinda and I taught my dancers that you demand respect by being good, you know, because they were all, all the other modern dancers, they were looking at me as oh she hasn't had any training, you know, not no real training, she just haven't had any ballet. And I'd go into an attitude which I didn't know was an attitude at that time. I put my leg up and I keep moving around on one, you know, one leg just spinning around without stopping, and be doing hand work at the same time, and just hold it because I had taken yoga. My concentration was superb.$$This is, were you the first dancer with Phil Cohran's [HM Philip Cohran's] ensemble?$$Uh hum, yes.$$So, so you basically set the tone for some of the dance, I mean for those who have seen Sun Ra and the sisters that danced with him, it's a lot of spinning, a lot of yoga inspired movement.$$Exactly.$$Had a lot of improvisation movement.$$Improvisation, right. Right.$$It's made up like jazz on the spur of the moment.$$Exactly.$$What you feel.$$Whatever you feel, and to have, I mean, the best you know and you had the best musicians and I worked with the Chicago Art Ensemble [Chicago, Illinois] I mean to have people like that Moye and Joseph Jarman and all of them to say, you know, we want you to perform my music. I mean those, I mean you couldn't have gotten, to me any better than that. They made me comfortable, so I didn't care about the dance world, that's my point, telling me that I had no real training because I was, I'm dancing with the people, the Chicago Art Ensemble? Please.

Doris Humphries

Dancer and dance instructor 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.

Accession Number

A2004.114

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/30/2004

Last Name

Humphries

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Englewood High School

Austin O. Sexton Elementary School

Brown W. Elementary School

Corpus Christi Elementary School

Lucy L. Flower Technical High School

First Name

Doris

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

HUM01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/10/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Dancer and dance instructor Doris Humphries (1924 - ) toured with music legends such as Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstein, and Dizzy Gillespie. Later, in a duo known as Tony and Tanya Belle, she became well known for her innovative coupling of Latin and soul. Humphries worked with the City of Chicago to create outreach programs with her group, The Closet Performers. Humphries also taught courses at Chicago-area colleges and cultural centers.

Employment

South Shore Cultural Center

Oak View Park Center

Moraine Valley College

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216606">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Doris Humphries' interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216607">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Doris Humphries lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216608">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Doris Humphries describes her maternal family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216609">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Doris Humphries talks about her mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216610">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Doris Humphries describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216611">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Doris Humphries describes her father's personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216612">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Doris Humphries describes her earliest childhood memories</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216613">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Doris Humphries talks about moving frequently while growing up in Chicago, Illinois during the Great Depression</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216614">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Doris Humphries describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216615">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Doris Humphries describes her childhood personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216616">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Doris Humphries describes Chicago, Illinois' South and West Sides and the living conditions there during the Great Depression</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216617">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Doris Humphries talks about her younger sister who died of pneumonia when they were children</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216618">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Doris Humphries recalls her favorite elementary school teacher and her experience in high school in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216619">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Doris Humphries recalls meeting her first dance partner at Englewood High School in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216620">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Doris Humphries describes the type of dance routines she and her first partner choreographed</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216621">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Doris Humphries talks about skating with the Musketeers as a high school student in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216622">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Doris Humphries lists African American performers and other tap dancers that inspired her</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216623">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Doris Humphries remembers her first out-of-town performance at Club Plantation in St. Louis, Missouri in 1944</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216624">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Doris Humphries remembers performing with Dizzy Gillespie and talks about the name changes of her duo, the Manhattan Debs</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216625">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Doris Humphries remembers facing discrimination on the bus and at a Catholic church while performing in Nashville, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216626">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Doris Humphries recalls staying in private homes while traveling for performances</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216627">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Doris Humphries talks about performing 'Caldonia' with Louis Jordan in California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216628">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Doris Humphries reflects upon the limitations placed on African American performers during the 1940s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216629">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Doris Humphries remembers performing at the Apollo Theater in New York, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216630">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Doris Humphries talks about meeting the Nicholas Brothers and Noble Sissle and being in the movie 'Swing Parade of 1946'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216631">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Doris Humphries talks about filming the movie 'Swing Parade of 1946' with Louis Jordan and The Three Stooges, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216632">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Doris Humphries reflects upon leaving show business around 1946 to focus on marriage and family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216633">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Doris Humphries remembers African American performers Flash McDonald, Peg Leg Bates and Sammy Davis, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216634">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Doris Humphries talks about Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan and reflects upon her sheltered experience in show business</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216635">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Doris Humphries talks about filming the movie 'Swing Parade of 1946' with Louis Jordan and The Three Stooges, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216636">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Doris Humphries recalls organizing community theater workshops and working with the Better Boys Foundation in Chicago, Illinois during the 1960s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216637">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Doris Humphries recalls dancing with Tony Cortez as part of the duo Tony and Tanya Belle</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216638">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</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216639">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Doris Humphries lists the types of dance she teaches and reflects upon her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216640">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Doris Humphries reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216641">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Doris Humphries describes her concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216642">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Doris Humphries reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216643">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Doris Humphries lists her children and talks about her daughter's career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216644">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Doris Humphries describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216645">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Doris Humphries narrates her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$6

DATitle
Doris Humphries remembers performing at the Apollo Theater in New York, New York
Doris Humphries recalls organizing community theater workshops and working with the Better Boys Foundation in Chicago, Illinois during the 1960s
Transcript
Now, what was your act like? (unclear) Go through-- just kind of walk me through the act. Did you all sing as well as dance?$$My partner [Ann Henry] did, that reminds me when we really got started we went to New York [New York]. Now that Apollo Theater [New York, New York] is another theater to talk about. We were told how they are in New York, how the Apollo Theater that, that--if you could make it at the Apollo Theater, you could make it anywhere. Then they also told us that like the first show opens on a Friday, a lot of kids would take off from school to see that first show, that first show meant a lot. They had us kind of nervous about it so my partner would sing and then we would go into the act--into the tap. When we first appeared in New York at the Apollo Theater, she wanted to sing and nothing came out, she could not sing, she froze. I'm trying to say well forget it, let's dance and I'm trying to make motions to tell her let's go on and dance and I fell (laughter). We finished the number, we got booed, they threw things at us, and we went off the floor. This is where Louie [Louis Thomas Jordan] first came in, took us over as an uncle, he really looked out for us. We went off that floor just crying, crying up a storm and Louie kind of took us over and had us to try and finish out the thing, I don't think--yeah we did finish it out. But we never were supposed to go back and then from that point on when we started doing shows all around and New York and that, now we're really becoming okay. We're booked back into the Apollo Theater so we thought oh my goodness here we go again. But this time we really got it together. So we did our number and we tore down the house. On our way up to our dressing room, we had a flight of stairs to go up to our dressing room and we reached our dressing room they were calling for us, "To come back, get back on stage they were still applauding." We had to go back on stage and they applauded us and when we got off, we said, "We made it, we made it (laughter) at the Apollo Theater," that's how tough that Apollo Theater was.$$That's sounds pretty rough. Did they have the [Howard] Sandman [Sims] then?$$The Sandman was the audience and yes they did have their amateur hour, the amateur time when we were there and he used to come with a hook and hook them off. So that same kind of crowd that was your audience for legitimate theater.$$What a bad experience well at least it's got a good ending.$$It had a good ending.$$So they actually threw things on stage at you?$$Oh yeah they threw stuff at you.$$They hadn't got pass the stage of throwing vegetables and that sort of thing?$$They probably made them stop that, you know after awhile but they sure did. The stage was like here and they were like this and boy you could see their eyes and their expressions. Now that's our first theater that we were ever booked into so you can imagine how nervous we were after hearing all that other stuff.$Let's talk about your teaching. You said you got involved in community activities with your kids and teaching dance and that sort of thing. Tell us about some of those activities.$$I've done a lot of projects for various communities. Communities like the, called the street projects. A lot of the community things that I've done--oh the Better Boys Foundation [BBF Family Services, Chicago, Illinois] was one. But a lot of the community work that I did was work that I just pulled together and worked with the children myself. I had a--in my block where my kids lived, I pulled the kids together and they did a little show and then it turned out that there was an organization that wanted the block clubs to put on their talents of their block and the winner would win a prize and I gathered the kids together, put them in my mom's [Bertha Robinson Blanks] basement, got their little show together. They did the show, they won and then they appeared--how wonderful for them to appear downtown at the McCormick Place [Chicago, Illinois]. Then I also started the theater workshop--community theater workshop at my church [St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower) Parish, Chicago, Illinois] which they allowed me to become housed there. I got a grant from the arts, Chicago Arts and started a little theater there. From there the kids did various shows. I was able to let them do their shows at Dunbar [Vocational Career Academy High School, Chicago, Illinois]--at the high schools so they had a big stage to work on and from the kids on the West Side [Chicago, Illinois] when I worked with the Better Boys Foundation, a lot of those kids--it's such a difference from the South Side [Chicago, Illinois] and the West Side. A lot of those kids hadn't even gone downtown--hadn't even been downtown which was surprising. So when I did work with these kids and did the show, I took them from there and they did a show at the old Sherman [House] Hotel [Chicago, Illinois] which is torn down now. But they did a show at the Sherman Hotel and they were really excited about that.$$About when were you doing some of these things? When were you at the Better Boys Foundation?$$That must have been in the '60s [1960s] because I also worked at the Chicago Park District teaching millinery.$$Making hats?$$Making hats and letting my ladies do their shows and they won prizes there. So I was kind of successful in all those little things that I did. But the Better Boys must have been around in the '60s [1960s].$$Was this before they had the theater built? They had a little theater named LaMont Zeno [Community] Theater [Chicago, Illinois] and it was in the '70s [1970s] I guess, that was probably the '70s [1970s].$$Yeah this was way before that 'cause all they had was this little two story building and at first it was just like the Better Boys who had the gym right down on the first floor and then they decided they would have the programs for the girls as well. It was [HistoryMaker] Warner Saunders that started getting this going and so I was with the ladies' group called--it was with Warner Saunders, this ladies that was the auxiliary part of Warner Saunders' clubs. I stayed and decided to work with them and do the shows and teach them how to dance and from there it just took off and that's how I got the kids to do the shows downtown, I took them from there over to the South Side and they did shows there so they were busy traveling back and forth.

Doris Jones

Artistic director and dance instructor Doris Winnefred Jones was born in Malden, Massachusetts on June 3, 1913, to Maddie Lightfoot Jones and Walter James Jones. She grew up with aspirations of being a ballet dancer, but found it difficult to find dance schools that would accept her as a student because of the paucity of African Americans involved in classical dance. At a young age, Jones was already a formidable tap dancer and was offered an opportunity to tour with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, but her parents would not allow her to go. As a teenager, she traded tap dancing lessons for ballet lessons at a classical dance school in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1941, Jones and another young dance teacher, Claire Haywood, founded the Jones-Haywood School for Ballet in order to provide young African American students with the opportunity to learn classical dance. Jones and Haywood later formed the Capitol Ballet Company as an integrated performing troupe. Jones served as the company's artistic director until 1982. Today, the Capitol Ballet Company holds the distinction of being the oldest predominately African American ballet company in the United States. In 1980, Jones also formed the Jones-Haywood Youth Dancers in order to provide more opportunities for younger dancers.

During her long career, Jones both trained and studied under some of the biggest names in classical dance including Chita Rivera, Hinton Battle, Sylvester Campbell and Sandra Fortune-Green. She also served as director of the Washington, D.C. Public Schools Dance Program. Over the years, she has choreographed for the Washington Opera Society and the Washington Civic Opera. She has been the recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal for Outstanding Service in Human Rights and the Metropolitan Theatrical Society's Mainline to Stardom Award.

Doris Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 25, 2003.

Doris Jones died of pneumonia on March 21, 2006, in Washington, D.C.

Accession Number

A2003.169

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/25/2003

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Middle Name

W.

Organizations
Schools

Practical Arts High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Doris

Birth City, State, Country

Malden

HM ID

JON05

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Let's Get On With It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/3/1913

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish

Death Date

3/21/2006

Short Description

Artistic director and dance instructor Doris Jones (1913 - 2006 ) co-founded the Capitol Ballet Company, the oldest predominantly African American ballet company in the United States. Jones formed the Jones-Haywood Youth Dancers in 1980.

Employment

Jones-Haywood School of Dance

Capitol Ballet Company

Jones-Haywood Youth Dancers

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151362">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Doris Jones' interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151363">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Doris Jones lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151364">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Doris Jones describes her family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151365">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Doris Jones talks about her mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151366">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Doris Jones describes her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151367">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Doris Jones speculates on how her parents might have met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151368">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Doris Jones talks about going to see shows every Monday with her mother as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151369">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Doris Jones talks about her childhood personality and interests</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151370">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Doris Jones talks about her family's records and phonograph</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151371">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Doris Jones talks about her father's profession and musical talent</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151372">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Doris Jones talks about her schooling</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151373">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Doris Jones talks about schoolteachers she remembers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151374">Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Doris Jones talks about taking formal dance classes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149923">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Doris Jones describes being refused dance lessons because of race</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149924">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Doris Jones describes her early career as a dance teacher</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149925">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Doris Jones describes moving to Washington, D.C. to teach dance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149926">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Doris Jones describes the growth of her dance school in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149927">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Doris Jones talks about her dance company and various dancers including HistoryMaker Sandra Fortune-Green</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149928">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Doris Jones talks about some of her dancers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149929">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Doris Jones talks about Chita Rivera and HistoryMaker Louis Johnson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151375">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Doris Jones talks about difficulties in purchasing a house for the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151376">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Doris Jones talks about differences in teaching styles between her and Claire Haywood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151377">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Doris Jones talks about the highlights of her career in dance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151378">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Doris Jones talks about her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151379">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Doris Jones talks about the need for the arts in schools and African dance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151380">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Doris Jones talks about her trip to Russia for the Second International Ballet Competition in 1973</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151381">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Doris Jones talks about HistoryMaker Sandra Fortune-Green's performance in Russia in 1973</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151382">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Doris Jones reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151383">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Doris Jones reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151384">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Doris Jones reflects upon how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/151385">Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Doris Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149941">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Doris Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 2</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Doris Jones describes her early career as a dance teacher
Doris Jones describes the growth of her dance school in Washington, D.C.
Transcript
Now, tell us about how you started teaching dance.$$Well, you know I told you how I was asked by the Deltas [Delta Sigma Theta Sorority] to do something on their program, and I had three paying students at fifty cents a week (laughter) and--$$You started--I mean well tell us the whole story 'cause, you know when we were talking I--the tape wasn't rolling, so.$$No.$$(Unclear) tell us.$$Well I, I was teaching three little students, and--$$And you were still a teenager, right?$$Oh, yes. And my sister's [Celestine Bayne] friend said, "Oh, Doris [HistoryMaker Doris Jones]," it was a (unclear), "we need to have you on the program; we're having a annual program, and we'd like to put you on the program." I said, "I don't want to dance, but I would love for my children to dance." So I got seven of them together, three of them were relatives. Two were my nieces and one was my cousin, and then I got four other little people; and I gave them a little dance routine, my mother [Mattie Lightfoot Jones] made costumes for them. And they danced; and they were so wonderful that, starting the following September, I had a registration of thirty people who called who wanted their children to come--still fifty cents a lesson. That was--they came once a week, and I taught some ballet, but I wasn't really up on it yet. So I stuck with the tap and every year the class--every year the class grew. And I taught about ten--let me see about thirteen years in Boston [Massachusetts] before I came here. And I went to--I used to go to Camp Atwater in East Brookfield, Massachusetts [sic. North Brookfield, Massachusetts]. (Unclear) De Berry [William De Berry] had a summer camp there. He had the girls--the boys in July and the girls in August; and he--I went there as a camper and when I grew up and he found that I was teaching dancing, he asked me to come up and teach the month of July--month of August, when the girls were there. So you had to be a counselor and do an activity, teach art or swimming or something. So I said to him, "No, I don't want to come, 'cause I don't want to be a counselor." I said, "I just want to teach dance." So he said, "All right Miss Jones, you come up and you'll teach just dance," which I did. And I used to do a program--I was up there for four weeks, at the end of two weeks, I'd do a program with the children, and the other two weeks I'd do another program. He would invite rich people who had money and they'd come up and they'd be so fascinated with the, you know, what was accomplished in the dance, they'd make donations. So after that, he said, "Well you don't ever have to be a counselor, all you do is put on this program twice a season."$So then we [Jones and Claire Haywood] bought--we rented this place on U Street [Washington, D.C.], which was a very fine--it's coming back, it was very--anything on U Street was really top notch. So then we got our school on U Street, we rented this building, had two stories and three little studios--not particularly big. And then we started our school there, and it grew and grew and grew. So finally we got--decided, well now if we're gonna make these ballet dancers, they can't come once a week; they have to come twice a week. That went all right. And the next year, they had to come three times a week; then the next year, they had to come four times a week. And that's when the people said, "Oh, no, my child can't be--no four times a week. I can't afford it and I can't afford to get them there; it's too much coming back and forth." So we said, "Okay, well we'll take three children who--," you know. And they began to see that the difference between the child who came twice a week, and the child that came four times a week was a big difference. Then they began to realize that if they wanted their children really to dance, they had to be in the studio. So then, now the children take four times a week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday--(unclear) Friday, we never worked on Fridays; we always had Fridays and Sundays off. And that's when the school grew, and we began to make dancers. And then we realized we had to have a small company because there's no--these people were dancing so well, there was no place for them to dance. So then we had an, assemble professional company and it just grew.$$Now when did you establish the company?$$Nineteen forty-one [1941].$$So that--so--and what's the name of the company?$$Capitol Ballet Company.$$Okay.$$Capitol with an O.

Katherine Dunham

Legendary dancer, choreographer and anthropologist Katherine Dunham was born June 22, 1909, to an African American father and French-Canadian mother who died when she was young. At an early age, Dunham became interested in dance. However, she did not seriously pursue a career in the profession until she was a student at the University of Chicago.

During her studies, Dunham attended a lecture on anthropology, where she was introduced to the concept of dance as a cultural symbol. Intrigued by this theory, Dunham began to study African roots of dance and, in 1935, she traveled to the Caribbean for field research. Dunham was exposed to sacred ritual dances performed by people on the islands of Haiti and Jamaica. She returned to the United States in 1936 informed by new methods of movement and expression, which she incorporated into techniques that transformed the world of dance.

In 1940, she formed the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, which became the premier facility for training dancers. Alumnae include Eartha Kitt, Marlon Brando and Julie Belafonte. Dunham is credited with introducing international audiences to African aesthetics and establishing African dance as a true art form. Called the “Matriarch of Black Dance,” her groundbreaking repertoire combined innovative interpretations of Caribbean dances, traditional ballet, African rituals and African American rhythms to create the Dunham Technique, which she performed with her dance troupe in venues around the world. Her many original works include L’ag’ya, Shango and Bal Negre. She also choreographed and appeared in Broadway musicals, operas and the film Cabin in the Sky.

The Dunham troupe toured for two decades, stirring audiences around the globe with their dynamic and highly theatrical performances. These experiences provided ample material for the numerous books, articles and short stories Dunham authored.

Dunham accepted a position at Southern Illinois University in East St. Louis in the 1960s. During her tenure, she secured funding for the Performing Arts Training Center, where she introduced a program designed to channel the energy of the community’s youth away from gangs and into dance. Dunham was always a formidable advocate for racial equality, boycotting segregated venues in the United States and using her performances to highlight discrimination. She made national headlines by staging a hunger strike to protest the U.S. government’s repatriation policy for Haitian immigrants.

Throughout her distinguished career, Dunham earned numerous honorary doctorates, awards and honors. She was the recipient of a Kennedy Center Honors Award, the Plaque d'Honneur Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce Award, and a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Dunham passed away on Sunday, May 21, 2006 at the age of 96.

Accession Number

A2000.020

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

2/11/2001

12/17/2000

Last Name

Dunham

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

University of Chicago

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Katherine

Birth City, State, Country

Glen Ellyn

HM ID

DUN01

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

McCormick Tribune Foundation

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Haiti

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/22/1909

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Sole

Death Date

5/21/2006

Short Description

Choreographer, dancer, and dance instructor Katherine Dunham (1909 - 2006 ) is credited with introducing international audiences to African aesthetics and establishing African dance as a true art form. Called the “Matriarch of Black Dance,” her groundbreaking repertoire combined innovative interpretations of Caribbean dances, traditional ballet, African rituals and African American rhythms to create the Dunham Technique, which she performed with her dance troupe in venues around the world.

Employment

Katherine Dunham School of Dance and Theatre

Southern Illinois University

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Platinum

DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6676">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Katherine Dunham interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6677">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Katherine Dunham's favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6678">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Katherine Dunham moves to Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6679">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Katherine Dunham remembers her mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6680">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Katherine Dunham discusses her parents' age difference</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6681">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Katherine Dunham describes her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6682">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Katherine Dunham discusses her parents' interracial marriage</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6683">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Katherine Dunham describes her maternal grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6684">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Katherine Dunham describes her brother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6685">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Katherine Dunham describes her personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6686">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Katherine Dunham discusses her brother's influence on her</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6687">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Katherine Dunham discusses her interest in dance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6688">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Katherine Dunham describes her brother's education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6689">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Katherine Dunham works as a librarian</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6690">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Katherine Dunham discusses her interest in anthropology</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6691">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Katherine Dunham mentions influential anthropologists</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6692">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Katherine Dunham discusses her Caribbean travels</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6693">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Katherine Dunham tells why she formed her own dance company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6694">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Katherine Dunham moves to New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6695">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Katherine Dunham mentions her first marriage</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6696">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Katherine Dunham descibes why she accepts the voodoo religion</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6697">Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Katherine Dunham develops her own dance technique</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6698">Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Katherine Dunham discusses 'Tropics and Le Jazz Hot'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6699">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Katherine Dunham mentions students of her dance school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6700">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Katherine Dunham describes the Dunham Technique</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6701">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Katherine Dunham's dance company travels Europe</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6702">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Katherine Dunham describes her involvement in her dance company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6703">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Katherine Dunham discusses memorable life experiences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6704">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Katherine Dunham capitalizes on her sex appeal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6705">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Katherine Dunham discusses her mentor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6706">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Katherine Dunham mentions her favorite works</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6707">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Katherine Dunham remarries and adopts daughter</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6708">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Katherine Dunham discusses her second husband</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6709">Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Katherine Dunham discusses the importance of dance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6710">Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Katherine Dunham discusses her work in Haiti</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6711">Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Katherine Dunham discusses her hopes for Haiti</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6712">Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Katherine Dunham moves to East St. Louis, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6713">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Katherine Dunham discusses East St. Louis, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6714">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Katherine Dunham discusses her life's cause</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6715">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Katherine Dunham discusses her future goals</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6716">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Katherine Dunham shares her hopes for African Americans</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6717">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Katherine Dunham describes the value of art</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6718">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Katherine Dunham discusses her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6719">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham at Age Seventeen (circa 1926)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6720">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham and Brother, Albert Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6721">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham Dances with Partner in 'Barrelhouse' in Paris (circa 1949)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6722">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham with Husband, John Pratt, and Daughter, Marie-Christine in Paris (1951)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6723">Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham and Husband, John Pratt, at Hollywood Opening (1953)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6724">Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham and Husband, John Pratt (1938)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6725">Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham and Husband, John Pratt</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6726">Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham Performs 'Guitar Blues' with Partner, Vanoye Aikens (circa 1944)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6727">Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham with Senegalese Percussionist, Mor Thiam, and His Wife, Kine at Katherine Dunham Museum (1972)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6728">Tape: 4 Story: 16 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham with Composer, Eubie Blake, After a Performance of 'Treemonisha' (1972)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6729">Tape: 4 Story: 17 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham Greets Visitors at the Katherine Dunham Museum (1979)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6730">Tape: 4 Story: 18 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham Receives the Albert Schweitzer Award (1979)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6731">Tape: 4 Story: 19 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham with President Ronald Reagan During Kennedy Center Awards Gala (1986)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6732">Tape: 4 Story: 20 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham with Participants in the Divine Drumbeats Ritual at Habitation LeClerc, Haiti (1980)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6733">Tape: 4 Story: 21 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham and Company in 'Lady With a Cigar'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6734">Tape: 4 Story: 22 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham Receives the Commander of the Legion of Honor of Haiti (1961)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6735">Tape: 4 Story: 23 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham and Adlai Stevenson Greet Childen at White House Conference on Children (1970)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6736">Tape: 4 Story: 24 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham and Company Disembark Plane in Nice (1949)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6737">Tape: 4 Story: 25 - Photo -- Young Katherine Dunham Rides in a Goat Cart</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6738">Tape: 4 Story: 26 - Photo -- Katherine Dunham with President of Senegal, Leopold Senghor</a>