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Glory Van Scott

Producer, performer, educator, and civic activist, Glory Van Scott, was born in Chicago, Illinois, June 1, 1947. Van Scott's parents, Dr. and Ms. Thomas Van Scott, were raised near Greenwood, Mississippi and shared some Choctaw and Seminole ancestry. The trauma of Van Scott's cousin Emmett Till’s murder in 1955 did not diminish the benefit of the art, dance, and drama classes at The Abraham Lincoln Center, where she met Paul Robeson and Charity Bailey. Van Scott spent summers in Ethical Culture Camp in New York. A student at Oakland Elementary School and Dunbar High School, Van Scott finished high school at Ethical Culture High School in New York City.

That summer at the Society for Ethical Culture’s Encampment for Citizenship, Cicely Tyson referred Van Scott to actress Vinette Carroll, who mentored Van Scott in theatrical arts. Soon Van Scott was moving easily between modeling for the Wilhelmina Agency and performing; a principal dancer with the Katherine Dunham, Agnes DeMille, and Talley Beatty dance companies, she also joined the American Ballet Company. Van Scott appeared on Broadway in House of Flowers, with Pearl Bailey in 1954; Kwamina in 1961; The Great White Hope in 1968; Billy No-Name in 1970; and Rhythms of the Saints in 2003. Van Scott played the Rolls Royce Lady in 1974’s film, The Wiz.

While pursuing her career in the performing arts, Van Scott earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees from Goddard College, and her Ph.D. from Antioch College's Union Graduate School. For ten years Van Scott taught theater at Bucknell University’s Pennsylvania School for the Arts, and, later, Theater As Social Change at Fordham University. Van Scott became a Breadloaf Writers Scholar and the author of eight musicals including Miss Truth. Van Scott founded Dr. Glory’s Youth Theatre. Lipincott published Van Scott’s first children’s book, Baba and the Flea.

Van Scott served as coordinator for WNET’s Dance in America - Katherine Dunham: Devine Drum Beats in 2000, and produced The Katherine Dunham Gala at Carnegie Hall, and the 2003 Tribute to Fred Benjamin at Symphony Space. Van Scott was also project director and artistic coordinator for the Alvin Ailey Company’s The Magic of Katherine Dunham and co-producer of the National Black Touring Circuit, with Woodie King, Jr. of New York Dance Divas. Van Scott, immortalized in bronze by Elizabeth Catlett in 1981, was awarded the first Katherine Dunham Legacy Award in 2002.

Accession Number

A2004.163

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/16/2004 |and| 9/16/2004

9/16/2004

Last Name

Van Scott

Maker Category
Schools

Dunbar Vocational Career Academy High School

North Kenwood/Oakland Elementary School

Goddard College

Ethical Culture Fieldston School

Union Institute & University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Glory

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

VAN04

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Let's go get some grub.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/1/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Broccoli

Short Description

Dancer, theater professor, and stage actress Glory Van Scott (1947 - ) has acted in several plays and movies, and has written eight musicals. She has worked on many tributes to Katherine Dunham, and was awarded the first Katherine Dunham Legacy Award in 2002. She is also founded of Dr. Glory's Children's Theater.

Employment

Katherine Dunham Dance Company

Talley Beatty Company

Agnes de Mille American Heritage Dance Theatre

Wilhelmina Models

American Jewish Committee

Fordham University

Bucknell University

Dr. Glory's Youth Theatre

Favorite Color

Purple

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Glory Van Scott's interview, session one

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Glory Van Scott explains the origin of her name

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Glory Van Scott remembers the origins of her interest in the Dunham Technique of dance

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Glory Van Scott explains what makes the Dunham Technique of dance unique

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Glory Van Scott remembers how the Dunham Technique affected her dance career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Glory Van Scott recalls meeting Katherine Dunham for the first time

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Glory Van Scott remembers the culture of the Katherine Dunham Company in 1959 to 1960

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Glory Van Scott details the Dunham Technique of dance

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Glory Van Scott recalls her favorite memories of travelling with the Katherine Dunham Company

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Glory Van Scott remembers Katherine Dunham as dance pioneer and humanitarian

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Glory Van Scott describes Katherine Dunham's dancers

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Glory Van Scott talks about reuniting the Katherine Dunham Company at a gala in Katherine Dunham's honor at Carnegie Hall in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Glory Van Scott talks about some of HistoryMaker Katherine Dunham's choreographic pieces

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Glory Van Scott describes lessons she learned from HistoryMaker Katherine Dunham

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Glory Van Scott reflects upon the legacy of HistoryMaker Katherine Dunham

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Slating of Glory Van Scott's interview, session two

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Glory Van Scott lists her favorites

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Glory Van Scott describes her mother's family background

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Glory Van Scott remembers being taught social consciousness by her mother

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Glory Van Scott recalls the murder of her cousin, Emmett Till, in 1955

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Glory Van Scott lists her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Glory Van Scott describes her father's family background

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Glory Van Scott remembers being prevented from learning about her father's Seminole heritage

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Glory Van Scott explains her politics, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Glory Van Scott explains her politics, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Glory Van Scott talks about her father

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Glory Van Scott describes her parents' roles in the community of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Glory Van Scott recalls her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Glory Van Scott remembers visiting the Abraham Lincoln Center while growing up in the Oakwood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Glory Van Scott describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Glory Van Scott remembers her schooling in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Glory Van Scott recalls the genesis of Arthur Mitchell's Dance Theatre of Harlem on the night of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Glory Van Scott remembers her disposition in elementary and high school

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Glory Van Scott recalls her orientation toward religion as a child

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Glory Van Scott recalls her mother and grandmothers' relationship with Reverend Joseph H. Jackson of Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Glory Van Scott explains her transfer from Dunbar High School in Chicago, Illinois to Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Glory Van Scott remembers her entree into the performing arts world after attending Encampment for Citizenship in New York, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Glory Van Scott describes her early performance career in New York, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Glory Van Scott recalls how her successful performance career evolved

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Glory Van Scott remembers HistoryMaker Katherine Dunham's influence on her career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Glory Van Scott recalls being principal dancer for Agnes de Mille American Heritage Dance Theater and Tally Beatty's company during the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Glory Van Scott talks about learning from senior members of the Katherine Dunham Company

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Glory Van Scott describes her philosophy of art

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Glory Van Scott recalls fighting against racist representations of African Americans in the performance art world, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Glory Van Scott recalls fighting against racist representations of African Americans in the performance art world, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Glory Van Scott remembers appearing as a principal dancer in 'Porgy and Bess' and as the Rolls Royce Lady in 'The Wiz'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Glory Van Scott remembers the dangers of being in the public eye

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Glory Van Scott talks about the musical she wrote, 'Miss Truth'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Glory Van Scott describes her children's theater company, Dr. Glory's Children's Theatre in New York, New York

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Glory Van Scott explains what drew her to tell Sojourner Truth's story

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Glory Van Scott talks about her tribute to September 11, 2001 rescue workers, 'Final Ladder'

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Glory Van Scott recalls a fire in her childhood home in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Glory Van Scott talks about her achievements in higher education

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Glory Van Scott explains the importance of reading and learning for children

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Glory Van Scott remembers being cast in bronze by HistoryMaker Elizabeth Catlett in 1981

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Glory Van Scott describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Glory Van Scott reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Glory Van Scott reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Glory Van Scott describes her family's opinion of her success

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Glory Van Scott reflects upon her religious beliefs

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Glory Van Scott describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Glory Van Scott narrates her photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

1$6

DAStory

9$8

DATitle
Glory Van Scott recalls her favorite memories of travelling with the Katherine Dunham Company
Glory Van Scott explains what drew her to tell Sojourner Truth's story
Transcript
How large was the troupe when you were in it? You said it was the large (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well, it was a big one. I think we probably had maybe forty people who would travel with us sometimes. You had all the dancers, and we had musicians. We had orchestra travelling with us. We had all kinds of--it was incredible.$$Can you give some of your favorite memories of, of traveling with the [Katherine] Dunham [Company]?$$(Laughter) Well, I think really my favorite is something that I did--well, it's a favorite memory. Two that stand out in my mind. One was, we were coming from Middle East and we came into Marseille [France] and we had to get to Paris [France], and there'd been a storm, and we were on one of [Aristotle] Onassis' ships, and there'd been a storm, so the pilot ship couldn't come in and get our ship and bring us into port in time for us to get off the ship and get on the train that was to take us from Marseille to Paris, so we were late and of course the train, the normal train that was going to Paris, one train had left, there was another train there, and it's getting ready to leave, so when we finally got off--and we were all seasick, because we'd been in a great big storm--they told us--our manager had a big discussion with the ticket taker or whatever the station master and insisted, "We have to get on that train," because what are you gonna do with all these people? They've got to get into Paris tonight and so they can sleep because we can't stand up in Marseille. There no hotels rooms here, what are we gonna do? So, they arranged that, and so he said to us, "All right," he said, "run over and go into that train over there." So, of course we all started running that direction to go into the train over there, and someone screamed, "It's not that train; it's the one over to the left." So you have all about forty people suddenly swerving and running to the left, and I remember thinking, my God it's like a herd of cattle, we're just running, running, running. We get on the train; we're hot; we're tired. So we get on this train, we sit down, and someone says, "Okay, don't worry," because we were hungry. When we're about ten minutes out with this train, it stops at a little weigh station, and you can get off and get hot chocolate, get a sandwich, whatever. So everybody is, "Oh yeah great, great, great." So we get out to that point, I pile off the train like everybody else go in there, and we're getting hot chocolate, of course everybody is trying to get it at once, all of a sudden the train started to pull off. People scream, "Oh, the train's leaving!" We turned around; I ran out there and to the right of me was pure darkness, to the left of me was pure darkness; there's nothing. Yura [ph.], which is one of the dancer/singers was on the train said, "Jump, sister, jump!" He sticks his hand out--I flipped a train. I had on slippers and everything else, and I could have gone under the train, could have been clickety, click, click goodnight, goodbye, but I flipped a train. I can't believe it, you know, to me that was movie time, but this was reality, and of course someone pulled the emergency cord, and they stopped the train, and so we had at that point an Australian manager was filling in for one of our other managers, and he was screaming, "Everybody get in those rooms, don't come out!" And he had to pay like a five hundred dollar fine and he was furious with us, but I mean, what, you couldn't leave [HistoryMaker] Ms. [Katherine] Dunham's company out there in the middle of nowhere. So, we piled in and so that's one of the ones. And the other was that, right before that one happened, is we came from the Middle East, is that when we got to Lebanon you had to declare a religion, and there was a big form you had to fill out. I refused to declare a religion. I drew a line through where it said religion. So, of course they looked at everybody's forms, and they see mine and the line drawn through, and they decided, "Well, she must be Jewish because she's not declaring a religion, and she drew a line through." So they gave it back to the manager and said, "She has to declare a religion or the company cannot come into Lebanon." So, we're in a holding pattern, and I'm sitting up there. I am furious, and I'm saying, "No, I don't have to declare a religion; that's none of their business. I don't want to declare a religion; I don't have to declare a religion." So, we're sitting and sitting and sitting, finally they said, "Well if you don't, the company is just going to sit here. There's nothing we can do." So, I thought about it, and I said, "Okay, all right, I'll put down Ethical Culture." Now, I did put down Ethical Culture. Ethical Culture is a humanist religion which was started by Felix Adler, who was a Jew. So there it is, I put Ethical Culture. They had no idea. So, okay, she put a religion down, and I went through, and so the company could go. But, that was my protest that I do not and should not have to tell you what religion I am; that's nobody's business. So, I remember that very well that I had, the company could not move until I decided to declare a religion.$Something I neglected to ask you when we were talking about Sojourner [Truth], the 'Miss Truth' play, is that, what is it about Sojourner Truth or what particular thing about, you know, her drew you to her story?$$Because she has the strength and the fire that my grandmother [Matilda Stackhouse Brown] had, and I think that's what, I mean when she would stand there, that she could stand when they said that she must--she was, you know, about six feet tall, so she must be a man, and so they, the racists said, "Well, go tell her that she's a man, and she won't come out here and talk before people," at one of the speaking engagements that she had. They wanted to get rid of her, so they figured to say, "She's a man," or, "She would dare bare her breasts out here because she doesn't have any; it's a man," and therefore she won't come out and, and preach, as she could, against slavery, and so she pulled herself together and came out there, and that's the famous speech she has, 'Ain't I A Woman,' what's she done, but I wrote, written another speech that I do for that. And she could bare her breasts. She could stand there, and they could not silence her. And then you know just--so it's that power that she knew that she had. It's that spirit that she knew that she had, and, "Yes, you might shoot me while I'm here," but it's like it's that thing that I feel like, you know, my God if I'm doing something in civil rights, I'm doing something I believe in, and if I get killed in the process--and what I came to understand in terms of the '60s [1960s]: I won't be the first person or the last to die for what he or she believes, so therefore removes that fear. It just takes it away, and you're right, you're going, you're right in what you're saying and right in what you believe, and you can stand there and do that. Yes, you may kill my body, you will never ever kill my mind. Somebody will have still left some of those thoughts about how we really can live as brothers in this society. Somebody will continue it; somebody will. You will hear it; it's there.