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Eleo Pomare

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2007.147

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/18/2007

Last Name

Pomare

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

P.S. 184

James Fenimore Cooper Junior High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Eleo

Birth City, State, Country

Santa Marta

HM ID

POM01

Favorite Season

Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

I Ain't Doing That.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/20/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

Colombia

Favorite Food

West Indian Food

Death Date

8/8/2008

Short Description

Choreographer and dancer Eleo Pomare (1937 - 2008 ) founded his own successful company in Amsterdam. He co-founded the Association of Black Choreographers and later THE FLEET, a black dance magazine.

Employment

Eleo Pomare Dance Company

R. H. Macy and Co.

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eleo Pomare's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare describes the feud between his maternal and paternal families

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare describes his mother's upbringing in San Andres, Colombia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare remembers his father's death

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eleo Pomare describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Eleo Pomare describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Eleo Pomare describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Eleo Pomare describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Eleo Pomare recalls how he came to the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare remembers the Carnival in Panama

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare describes Latin American dance and music

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare describes the impact of African culture on Latin America

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare describes his experiences upon arrival in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare remmebers P.S. 184 in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare describes his uncle's influence on his education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare recalls his relatives in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Eleo Pomare remembers the Harlem community

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon the influence of the church on his dance career

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare remembers James Fenimore Cooper Junior High School in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare recalls his woodshop class at James Fenimore Cooper Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare describes his decision to attend the High School of Performing Arts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare talks about teaching dance in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare talks about teaching dance in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare recalls African American dancers from his youth

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare describes the High School of Performing Arts in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare recalls his teachers at the High School of Performing Arts

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare describes his volunteer work as a dance teacher in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare describes his decision to leave his family home

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare describes his relationship with his maternal family

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare remembers seeing a performance by Talley Beatty

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare recalls the African American dancers of his generation

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon the works of Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Eleo Pomare remembers his classmate, Arthur Mitchell

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare describes the first Eleo Pomare Dance Company

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare remembers his company's first performance in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare remembers obtaining a John Hay Whitney Foundation fellowship

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare describes the Folkwang School of Music, Theatre and Dance in Essen, Germany

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare describes the European Eleo Pomare Dance Company

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare describes his decision to return to the United States, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare describes his decision to return to the United States, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare describes his dance piece, 'Missa Luba'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare recalls the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare describes his dance piece, 'Blues for the Jungle'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare remembers performing "Junkie" from 'Blues for the Jungle'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare describes his dance piece, 'Las Desenamoradas'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare talks about his choreographic method

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare recalls founding the Association of Black Choreographers, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare recalls founding the Association of Black Choreographers, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon black choreographers

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon the cultural influences in his choreography

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare talks about the Harlem Cultural Council Dancemobile

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare describes his fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare remembers the political climate of the late 1970s

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare recalls the lack of funding for African American dance companies

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Eleo Pomare describes his dance piece, 'Morning Without Sunrise,' pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Eleo Pomare describes his dance piece, 'Morning Without Sunrise,' pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon his dance career

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon his teaching style

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Eleo Pomare recalls the members of the Eleo Pomare Dance Company

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Eleo Pomare remembers performing at the Adelaide Festival in Australia

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Eleo Pomare talks about contemporary dance companies

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Eleo Pomare describes his recent choreographic work

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Eleo Pomare describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Eleo Pomare reflects upon his life

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Eleo Pomare talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Eleo Pomare describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

1$4

DATitle
Eleo Pomare reflects upon the influence of the church on his dance career
Eleo Pomare remembers performing "Junkie" from 'Blues for the Jungle'
Transcript
I was close to so many places where I'm, I'm excited by music, the way Carnival, the music affected me, the, the parallel to it was the small churches or the churches in Harlem [New York, New York]. And at the time I didn't realize that I was really studying theater (laughter) by attend, by going to these places. I can remember at the corner, at the corner of a 125th Street [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard] was Daddy Grace Temple [Grace Temple, New York, New York] right there at the corner. And, and I used to visit Prophet Jones' [James F. Jones] small church. And mainly for, for the music, it's the music that attracted me. And a passion that, that is very difficult to define, the, the life, you know, that, that pushed you, (laughter) you know. And I wouldn't say it had anything to do with my beliefs, my [maternal] uncle [Barsabas Anab Pomare] had already influenced me when it came to the purpose of an Almighty and whatnot. But the sincerity, the humanness of what I saw in these places gave me some sense of, of the depth of emotion. It also prepared me for, for what I would make if, if I was an actor, what I would make if I was a painter. And the search would be to, to, to not be involved with the religion but to be involved with the ability to, to, to experience so deeply, so real, you know, to see people who actually feel. And the, the, that, I had, had really a phenomenal interest to me. And, of course, there were the five cents parties the grind sessions and all of that that you were forbidden to go to, red light, blue light parties and things of that nature.$$Yeah, the church experience, I mean, I, sounds a lot like, you ever read, read James Baldwin where he describes a little church where he was a, he was a, a boy pastor in the church and could (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, oh, yes, James--$$He, he could make--$$James was a friend of mine.$$Yeah, okay.$$As a matter of fact, I often tell people that James Baldwin is the reason, had something to do with what, with my sitting where I am right now.$$Okay.$$You know, he--$$Did you meet him before you started dance, you know, dancing professionally, did you?$$Not before.$$Okay.$$See I lived in the village, Greenwich Village [New York, New York]. And at that time there used to be these afternoon soirees for the intellectual or the searching mind and whatnot. And I, I first met James at one of these affairs that was given by someone by the name of Lionel Mitchell who, who was a writer. He's written for the Amsterdam News [New York Amsterdam News], and the, the black newspapers.$I, for instance, when I started doing "Junkie" ['Blues for the Jungle,' Eleo Pomare], Judy Dearing said to me, "You will never be convincing because first of all, you're holding the joint improperly, no one holds a joint like that." You know, where I learned how to do "Junkie"? In back of the Apollo Theater [New York, New York]. It was a place called the Bucket of Blood [ph.] (laughter). A bar, and for several nights John Parks, a whole group of us, would do field work, until I learned from those guys who hung out in back of the Apollo, they got so they would do this to me (gesture) they would say hello. But I learned that you don't nod as if you've had many dance classes. Everything you learned about form and structure have to go out of the window because you're creating a different reality. And this thing was accurate. I can remember the premier of that, it was like all hell broke loose in the theater, (laughter) you know, it's like that (gesture). And when the dancers for the first time used the word it was like brand new, no one, no one, you know, come at you down the aisle going, "Hey, man, you, you wanna buy a joint (makes noise)?" And you realize someone is dying down there in the aisle. That's the theater I am in to. Along with the other craftsman type things that I've done. So what was interesting about that to me is, is the audience. You, you know, it's interesting to see an integrated audience look at it, and watch, it looks like mixture of people where everyone is going like (gesture). And then the middle class blacks, especially the ones out of the, not in the East, the southern middle class, "Why did you bring that dance to our theater? Why did you do this? That is only pushing us back decades. You should have, you, you know." What is pushing you back decades is your phoniness. And so it's, it is, it could have caused me great angst, great pain, you know, but you don't do something you believe and then apologize for it. So that was that.

Joan Gray

Dancer and arts administrator Joan Gray, was born on July 29, 1949, in Chicago, Illinois, one of eight children, including her twin sister, Judi. Gray attended Chicago public schools and, after earning her high school diploma in 1967, went on to North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. From 1979 to 1986, Gray worked as an administrative assistant at South Shore Bank.

From 1984 on, Gray was a member of the Muntu Dance Theatre in Chicago. Muntu, from the Bantu word for “the essence of humanity,” was founded in 1972 on the South Side of Chicago by a group of young artists looking for a means of expressing their African heritage. In 1973, the group was joined by choreographer and dancer Alyo Tolbert, who helped them rise to the professional level. Gray first heard of Muntu in 1977 from a drummer who was on his way to the theater; though she did not join until 1984, by 1987 she had become president of the troupe. Gray continued to dance with the theater until 1991.

The performances put on by Muntu included dances from various African countries, such as Senegal, Mali, and Ghana, as well as dances from the Caribbean and the United States. Their performances are known to bring viewers to their feet dancing, and because the troupe so thoroughly studies the significance of each dance, they teach about the culture as the performance takes place.

In addition to her work with Muntu, Gray was active as a board member of the International Association of Blacks in Dance for over a decade, and served on the African American Arts Alliance and the Chicago Dance Coalition.

In addition to her career in dance and arts administration, Gray raised two children.

Accession Number

A2003.199

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/20/2003

Last Name

Gray

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

Frances E. Willard Elementary School

Vincennes Upper Grade School

Hyde Park Academy High School

North Central College

Roosevelt University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joan

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

GRA03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Clarify The Vision.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/29/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Grilled Salmon

Short Description

Dancer and arts administrator Joan Gray (1949 - ) was the president and a former dancer with the Muntu Dance Theater.

Employment

South Shore Bank

Muntu Dance Theatre

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joan Gray interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joan Gray lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joan Gray talks about her mother's origins and ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joan Gray remembers her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joan Gray recalls her father's background and her grandmother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joan Gray talks about the skin color prejudice in her family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joan Gray reminisces about her earliest memory and sights, smells and sounds of her neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joan Gray talks about her childhood and religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joan Gray talks about her activities in her church

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joan Gray recalls her piano lessons as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joan Gray details her formal education in Chicago through high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joan Gray talks about her grandmother's reaction to the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joan Gray recalls her high school experiences in Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joan Gray talks more about her high school experiences and her strict upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joan Gray discusses her rebellious youth and her negative experiences in college in Naperville, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joan Gray talks about her experience at Roosevelt University and subsequent work with the Black Panther Party

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joan Gray recalls her involvement with the Black Panther Party in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joan Gray discusses the Black Panthers' cooperation with Chicago street gangs

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joan Gray recalls the day Fred Hampton was assassinated

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joan Gray talks about being under surveillance due to her activities in the Black Panther Party

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joan Gray discusses misogyny within the various black political movements of the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joan Gray talks about her activities after leaving the Black Panther Party

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joan Gray recalls her introduction to Muntu Dance Theatre

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joan Gray discusses the public's reception to Muntu Dance Theatre

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joan Gray talks about Muntu Dance Theatre's growth in popularity

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joan Gray recalls one of Muntu Dance Theatre's performances

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joan Gray recounts the death of Muntu Dance Theatre's organizer, Alyo Tolbert

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joan Gray discusses the direction of Muntu Dance Theatre after Alyo Tolbert

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joan Gray recalls the steps taken to keep the Muntu Dance Theatre afloat in the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joan Gray details her current activities with Muntu Dance Theatre

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joan Gray talks about her hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joan Gray discusses her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

4$4

DATitle
Joan Gray recalls the day Fred Hampton was assassinated
Joan Gray talks about Muntu Dance Theatre's growth in popularity
Transcript
It was December 4th '69 [1969] and--'cause I was pregnant at the time and my son was born that following August of '70 [1970] yeah, that's right.$$Yeah. Okay, well, where were you when--when [Deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party] Fred Hampton was killed.$$Actually, I was staying at that apartment his mother--wife [sic, girlfriend] Deborah [Johnson] and I were good friends and I had my grandmother's [Alice Marie Warner] car, and I had given--we had left political education class at the church and one of them, I can't remember one of the guys asked to borrow my grandmother's car, and I was gonna south with--with some other friends of mine in the [Black Panther] Party and they were gonna come back and get me and they didn't come back and get me and I was pissed 'cause you know sometimes they would take my grandmother's car and they'd go off and do whatever they wanted to do with it and I'm without--excuse me that's my car. So that morning I was really pissed cause I had to take the bus to the [Free] Breakfast for Children's program. We had it at the church on 51st [Street] and around State Street. I can't think of the name of the church now. But, I had to take the bus to the Breakfast for Children's program and when I got to the Breakfast for Children's Program--.$$Is that St. Charles Lwanga?$$Nope. This was going toward--it was across the street from the projects up there by DuSable [High School, Chicago, Illinois]. Can't think of the name of that church now. But, I was bugged because I was over in South Shore and I had to take the bus over to the Breakfast for Children program early in the morning so we could get there before the kids got there and when we got there, we got a phone call saying you know, no Breakfast for Children today, closed down, come to the office, you know--we knew--we were told what had happened to Fred. In fact, it wasn't come to the office then because they said, stay as far away from the office as you could, because they thought that there were going to be retaliatory things going on so, we were kind of at a loss for a minute about what to do so I think we ultimately ended up staying there and then we you know met at somebody's house and to find out what was going on and to get the update.$$Now you may not have any thoughts about this--I mean--but--in--in retrospect when you look at--at what happened--I mean there--it was revealed later on that there several operatives from Chicago's Red Squad [a select group of police officers and FBI agents whose sole purpose is to infiltrate alleged corrupt organizations]--not several but at least one or two in the Panther Party.$$Oh, yeah, oh, yeah$$The one that did--yeah.$$Always--always.$$Did you--did you have a sense that that was going on while you were in the Party or--or did you--did it just come to light after the--?$$We knew it was going on while I was in the Party because while Fred was locked up during one particular point in time, this guy, his name was Louis Truelock came and he was a skinner--you know I was Malcolm X's bodyguard and every time he talked--he was you know, skinnin' and rap--you know that whole East Coast New York thing--slick. And people kind of openly accepted him because he had all these stories. "Oh, he must be okay, if he's Malcolm X's bodyguard," you know, and I remember Fred was out for a minute while the trial was going on and we were talking and he told me he said, "Louis Truelock don't run nothin' but his mouth," you know, so don't trust him in other words, and I think we got the word from Fred while he was in prison that Truelock had been in prison with someone that--I--it's kind of fuzzy now but someone who Fred connected with while he was in prison knew Truelock and said, nope, and so he--we didn't see him any more I guess he realized he--it was blown and that--he just disappeared, but there were others who came and went and actually a good friend of mine had a relationship with this guy William O'Neal who was head of security for the Black Panther Party and I was pregnant at the time and for some reason he took a liking to me cause I, I--there--his girlfriend and I were roommates, we shared an apartment together and he kind of took me under his wing and he recruited me to their security staff so I got to spend a lot of time on doing different kinds of things shall we just say, and I remember when Fred died. He came to the apartment and he put his fist through the wall, you know, he was angry, he--you know, he was upset. He put his fist through the wall. We had moved over there by then and you know we--you know what, this was--yeah, he put his fist through the wall and then he left, you know and the attorneys who were working on the case by then started interviewing us about different ones and you know, information that they had about meetings and things that had taken place and questioning us about who was--who all was there--anyway it came around that O'Neal had been the informant in the Party all along, and he had been--wormed his self up into the upper echelon of the Party as well. So.$$And he was killed mysteriously--?$$On the Eisenhower.$$Yeah, running down the Eisenhower Expressway.$$Right, yeah, 'cause he was in the--they--they took him into the Witness Protection Program. I remember one time, mm-hmm--.$$This is in '83 [1983] I think about '83.$$Yeah, he was killed while he--.$$About '82 [1982] '83 [1983], I was doing the Harold Washington [mayoral] campaign, I remember.$Tell us about Muntu's [Dance Theatre of Chicago] growth--I guess cause Alyo [Tolbert, Muntu Dance Theatre's founder and first artistic director]--I remember when--in the mid '70s [1970s] it was sort of a small group but it was intense and they doing , you know--but it began to kind of grow in the late '70s.$$Alyo was a visionary and, I likened him in a way--his persona reminded me of Fred Hampton's [Black Panther Party leader] persona in a different way, but the same kind of strength and magnitude. He again was another person who knew how to motivate people, who knew how to get people to--to give up the energy for him in a way. People--anybody who met Alyo immediately loved him, cause you knew that he saw the good things in you. He encouraged you to do the best that you could do and I know it was his vision primarily that propelled Muntu to begin looking at institutional status. You know, in '76 [1976] we did the company, I wasn't with them then, I didn't come until '77 [1977] but they did their first full concert the first annual fall concert was done at Francis Parker High School on the North Side [of Chicago, Illinois] and Alyo--we didn't get grants or anything like that--he would go to people, you know different business people or people in his family. He would borrow money, you know, and say, you know, "I'll pay you back after the show," and some kind of way he would you know, find a way to pay people back but he was a--he was a magnetic person, you know, and just a blessed spirit. Peaceful spirit and people radiated to him, you know. So when he got involved on that level that's when the company really began to perceive itself as yes--holding to that cultural heritage root, but envisioning themselves now as a professional dance company, professional dancers and musicians, you know so it went more in that direction, under his guidance and leadership, and Babu Atiba and--the musical director at the time--shoot, with the long dreads, oh, this is terrible. Moshe. (ph.)$$Moshe Mallen (ph.).$$Yeah, Moshe Mallen and all of us. I as the--we had this thing called you know the council that was a different one from the company we'd get elected to and the whole point--purpose of the council was to you know the--to help set policy and stuff for the--for the company.$$Now here we have like a new kind of governance for a dance company.$$Yes, yeah.$$And this is you know, as we look back--I mean t the Institute for Positive Education had a council, you know, and these are--so--.$$And Babba Daniel (ph.) was our advisor and I think the whole idea for a council came from him. I could be wrong about that, but that's kind of my memory of it, and different ones from the company would get elected and you'd serve for a year, you know and I remember when it was--we were on the council. It was myself and Atiba, Alyo, Minyamin (ph.) and some--a couple of others, you know and Alyo was saying, you know, "We need to have our own building." You know, "We need to have the artists on full time. We need to be able to pay salaries," you know, and that kind of thing. As early as you know like 1978, 1979 that was his vision. That's where his mind was going to and he started looking around for gigs for us out of town 'cause we had really taken off in the Chicagoland area. We were doing block parties, and funerals and weddings and naming ceremonies and Gwendolyn Brooks [poet laureate of Illinois] use to refer to us and it was such an honor as the community professionals in residence, you know because we would--that's how the company was building up it's loyal following by doing all of these grass roots neighborhood events and it was really an honor--I didn't realize it as much then but what--what a statement that was making that people thought it was appropriate to have African dancing and drumming to commemorate an important event in their life, you know, so it was a block club, yeah, but we--I--you know it was an honor to me that people wanted us to come and be a part of their celebrations in that way, and Alyo said, "Hey, this can go on the road, you know." So we started contacting and we--you know different people we knew in Detroit [Michigan] and St. Louis [Missouri] and different places and getting booked and the word started spreading and then next thing you know we were going to New York to the Brooklyn Academy of Music and down to Louisville [Kentucky] and just different other places you know, doing stuff.