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Topics for Today - Focus on Talley Beatty, Donald McKayle and Alvin Ailey Focus on Talley Beatty, Donald McKayle and Alvin Ailey Men emerge to the forefront.

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Presentation on theme: "Topics for Today - Focus on Talley Beatty, Donald McKayle and Alvin Ailey Focus on Talley Beatty, Donald McKayle and Alvin Ailey Men emerge to the forefront."— Presentation transcript:

1 Topics for Today - Focus on Talley Beatty, Donald McKayle and Alvin Ailey
Focus on Talley Beatty, Donald McKayle and Alvin Ailey Men emerge to the forefront All male, less resistance to their work Interest in human relationships, all work on Broadway All have companies for a while

2 Talley Beatty - Dancer with Katherine Dunham
Virtuoso dancer, celebrated choreographer danced with Katherine Dunham for 19 years, one of original 9 Dunham dancers to NYC in 1937 Born in Louisiana, grew up in Chicago Innovator in jazz/modern styles Famous works include Southern Landscape (1947) The Road of thePhoebe Snow (1959) and The Stack-Up (1983)

3 Talley Beatty - Dancer with Katherine Dunham
B. Youth and early training - Met Dunham as a boy in Chicago, studied with her and took ballet. Took classes in the adjacent dressing room because not allowed to train with the whites.

4 Talley Beatty - Dancer with Katherine Dunham
Beatty expressed the fusion of Dunham technique especially well, understood connections between cultural symbols, customs, everyday activities and the arts Played the initiate in the puberty ritual of Rites of Passage, controlled, subdued intense feelings Performed in Cabin in the Sky, (1941) on Broadway, and Stormy Weather (1943)

5 Talley Beatty - Dancer in “Choreography for the Camera”

6 Talley Beatty - Southern Landscape

7 Talley Beatty - Post Dunham Career - Outstanding choreographer
His works express the 2nd phase of Black Concert dance - contemporary African American experience and pursuit of freedom. Southern Landscape (1947) inspired by Howard Fast’s Freedom Road discussing the KKK’s destruction of black/white communities in post Civil War. a. Mourner’s Bench a solo about a person seeking conversion b. Ring shout c. My Hair Was Wet with the Mountain Dew d. Settin’ Up

8 Talley Beatty - Southern Landscape - Mourner’s Bench

9 Talley Beatty - Post Dunham Career - Outstanding choreographer
His works express the 2nd phase of Black Concert dance - contemporary African American experience and pursuit of freedom. The Road of the Phoebe Snow (1959) - a triumph of form and jazz dance a. inspired by the famous cross country train he was familiar with in the South b. developed the frustration and alienation of youth and how it is expressed through violence and gangs

10 Talley Beatty - Post Dunham Career - Outstanding choreographer
Stack-Up (1983) - Music by Earth, Wind, and Fire, a combination of city characters from the down to business types. a. walking bopping, hustlers, gamblers, winos b. uses gestures as a movement instigation (very post-modern) the high fives c. polyphonic, contrapuntal, rhythmic with emphasis on torso and hip movement d. draws on Beatty’s teenage experience of social dance, tap and rapping in 80s in Chicago e. also employs modern/balletic turns, spirals, extensions

11 Donald McKayle - Dancer and Choreographer
Background Born 1930, NYC, of West Indian parents Studied with Pearl Primus, Sophie Maslow and Jean Erdman, Graham dancers, Erdman married to Joseph Campbell, the power of myth. Performs both concert dance (Cunningham, Anna Sokolow) and on Broadway(works with Tamiris and Nagrin) a. “House of Flowers” along with many emerging African American dance artists including Alvin Ailey. b. Toured to Asia with Martha Graham in

12 Donald McKayle - Choreographer Games (1951)
Games dealt with games children play that express their fears, hunger, joys, through dance and song Accompanied by two singers looking out a window NYC street sensibility about the people he knew through experience, a dance about real people. Challenge to adult dancers, convey childlike innocence, exuberance, vulnerable, tough, timid, etc.

13 Donald McKayle - Choreographer Games (1951)
Unseen evil character, “Chichee the Cop” Reality ultimately crashes in on their games, the threat remains real yet unseen Choreographic approach is visceral, he is dealing with people in different situations McKayle is less interested in abstract concepts/designs (Cunningham begins to rise in prominence)

14 Donald McKayle - Choreographer Games (1951)

15 Donald McKayle - Choreographer Rainbow Round My Shoulder (1959)
Focused on degradation of human life, chain gangs, existence is oppressive, thoughts of freedom, only hope yet remote hope. Dreams sustain them - each man has a duet with a dream lover, girlfriend, wife, mother, expresses human relationships, desire for a natural opportunity to be free Rainbow suggests shape of pick ax, spatial design of the swing, and in sleep the rainbow is a bridge from inside to outside freedom through dreams. Climax - an attempt to escape from the hell hole results in death. Reminiscence of slavery reality yet expresses contemporary, African- American reality

16 Donald McKayle - Choreographer Rainbow Round My Shoulder (1959)

17 Donald McKayle - Choreographer District Storyville (1962)
District Storyville (1962) celebrates the birth of jazz in the bordellos of New Orleans District Storyville grounded in fact McKayle uses authentic jazz vernacular dance for movement inventiveness He affirms black culture by celebrating Afro-American musical invention, jazz

18 Donald McKayle - Commercial Work - Disney’s Bedknobsand Broomsticks

19 Donald McKayle - the man of his time
He speaks from the present as a working Negro artist a. Negro dancers are well trained artists with excellent craft b. Negro choreographers are the finest to be found regardless of race McKayle’s temperament drew him to concert modern dance, an arena of more modern attitudes and opportunity in comparison to ballet Concert dance choreographers opened their companies to Negro dancers were criticized for it Negro choreographers blazed own trail their dances in companies around the world

20 Alvin Ailey - Dancer, Choreographer, Visionary - an integrated repertory company
Ailey born in Texas in 1931, life of poverty Moved to LA met and studied with Lester Horton - also worked with Carmen de Lavallade a debut as a dancer with Horton Co., Bel Caribe b Appeared in House of Flowers on Broadway along with de Lavallade, c. Review refers to torrid maidens, bare- chested bucks in a number of wild, grotesque, animalistic dances

21 Alvin Ailey - Dancer, Choreographer, Visionary House of Flowers

22 Alvin Ailey - Dancer, Choreographer, Visionary - an integrated repertory company
First choreographic sensation Blues Suite 1958 black life in a small town, dreams molded by sexuality, pain of loss, heartache, and triumph, the blues. Blues Suite, drew message of black disenfranchisement mixed with victorious attitudes, stances c. Full body movement, theatrical values learned from Lester Horton. d. Ailey gets strong review as a dancer -Martin compares him to a nervously alert animal

23 Blues Suite

24 Alvin Ailey - Dancer, Choreographer, Visionary - an integrated repertory company
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, 49 years old in 2007. Based on total dance theatre and repertory company a. preserve works and commission new works by both white and black choreographers Company reputation for excellent dancing, strong, clear, warm and dynamic, blend of modern, jazz, ballet and ethnic Ailey company has been a platform for black choreographers. learned

25 Alvin Ailey - Revelations (1960)
Drew on her Baptist background in Texas spiritual understanding of black life. Revelations, based on Negro spirituals a dance statement about faith and the spirit of man. 1. Refreshed the modern dance lexicon, a forthright and frank portrayal of a people 2. Revelations elicits rave response warm receptions 3. Expressed a creative endurance and triumph. Ailey opened doors wider for black dancers and choreographers 4. Ailey’s dances chronicle Am history from a black perspective, though a black voice


27 Alvin Ailey - Dancer, Choreographer, Visionary - an integrated repertory company
Ailey emerged in a period of hope and change for blacks in American and in modern dance Brown v. Topeka Bd. of Ed, challenges separate but equal schools 2. Civil rights movement beginning, emerged from blacks losing lives in wars to defend freedom yet not receiving it at home 3. All gave greater voice to African Americans

28 Katherine Dunham – Anthropologist and Dancer
Katherine Dunham – started a Negro Dance Troupe which appeared in La Guiablesse in Chicago choreographed by Ruth Page. She meets anthropologist Dr. Redfield which sparks her interest in researching and uplifting respect for black dance. This peaked her interest to study. An early theorist of black dance. She went to Haiti on a Rosenwald fellowship to study the authentic dances, some of which revolved around the Vaudun rituals.

29 Katherine Dunham – Anthropologist and Dancer
She studied ballet and Mary Wigman modern technique. She also appeared on Broadway, and had a dance company that toured America, Europe, and Africa. Her company and Alvin Ailey - the most seen modern troupes around the world. She theatricalized the authentic ritual dances she studied for the stage and reviews.

30 Caribbean research in mid 30’s
Martinique, Jamaica and Haiti Becomes a devotee of vaudun

31 Martinique - L’Agya - martial art disguised as a dance

32 Research and Concert Dance Fusion
Brings this research back to concert dance - L’Agya is the first exdample - in Chicago Early concerts in Chicago and then New York

33 Important Dances - a selected list
L’Agya (Martinique Fighting dance) Stormy Weather film, background of race riots in US Shango - Caribbean sacred dance, possession Barrel House Blues -- Jazz and blues dancing Southland – depicts a lynching

34 Katherine Dunham – Anthropologist
Katherine Dunham’s greatest contribution was her authentic research into the dances of Haiti and other Caribbean cultures and bring that research back to United States. She felt that these cultures were closer to African origins in dance culture because the influence of the dominant culture in the Caribbean was less pervasive and repressive. The Catholic religion of the Spanish rulers saw the original slaves as souls to be saved rather than sub-human as in the English colonies.

35 Shango from Carib Song- a theatrical version of ritual possession - modeled on Voodoo

36 Katherine Dunham – African and African American dance
Dance in Africa functions as a continuum between community participation, individual virtuoso performance and the vehicle for spiritual practice. Dunham distinguished 3 processes involving African background in New World Dance Incorporation of African religions in Christian rites Secularization of African religious dancer. Interaction of African secular dances.

37 Stormy Weather - 1943 film Dance is the break in jazz ballad by Lena Horne

38 Barrel House Blues - a jazz/blues dance - address Afro- American contemporary experience

39 Katherine Dunham – Sally Banes on Dunham and Rites of Passage
Rites based on primal cultures yet still an “imagined” dance. Dunham’s work reflected her research. Community is supportive, positive and involved instead of antagonistic. In this sacred rite women are influential leaders – the matriarch of female elder initiates the ceremony. In her research in Haiti Duncan had special access because she was a women and of color (white mother and black father). She was a participant observer in women centered activities different from many white male anthropologists. –As a dancer she could participate in the many religious and secular activities that included dancing. She was the ultimate insider outsider.

40 Katherine Dunham – Rites of Passage (1941)
In her Boston Tropical Review show that included many dances of African American sources among others only Rites was banned in Boston. Four sections – Puberty, Fertility Ritual, Death and Women’s Mysteries. Puberty addresses a boy’s transition to manhood. Death focuses on the chief’s funeral attended buy his multiple wives. Fertility Ritual addresses the community necessity of human procreation. Overseen by the Matriarch. Focuses on one couple the suggestion is that other couples are the focus on another day as all will experience this important transition.

41 Katherine Dunham – Rites of Passage (1941)
The dance simulates copulation in the gradual crescendo of excitement that occurs in the dance. It incorporates frank pelvic movements as part of the choreographic dialogue. While the key dancing duet begins the action it spreads to the community who echo the movement until ultimately the man lift s the women upwards in a lift at the back platform. This echoes the final lift of The Chosen One in Rite of Spring. Except here it is two very alive humans celebrating this important and spiritual function as opposed to the male elders offering up a dead maiden.

42 Katherine Dunham – Rites of Passage (1941) - Puberty

43 Katherine Dunham – Rites of Passage (1941)
This frank portrayal of sexuality was too much for those of more Puritan persuasion. Dunham commented that her dances were always seen as art in Europe and never as sexual. Dunham shared with Ruth St. Denis the presentation of exotic material on the US concert stage. She both embodied her dual persona of scholar and torrid dancer. She appropriated male symbols of power with her “Woman with a Cigar role in Tropical Review. Presented her dances from a scholarly perspective yet they were still highly entertaining. This perplexed reviewers. Therefore she features her intelligence – doubly critical as an African American because of the minstrel stereotypes that suggested blacks could not be educated.

44 Philosophy and Technique
Ballet fused with Afro-Haitian and Modern techniques Challenges stereotypes - Afro-Americans need dance training to maximize their talent just like white dancers. Ballet just as important as ethnic forms. Acculturation not race accounts for Afro- American rhythmic prowess St Louis School

45 Katherine Dunham – Inovator in technique
Created her own technique to train dancers to move in the Africanist style -polyrhythmic pelvic/body isolations blended with ballet and modern dance. At a time when critics felt blacks were unsuited to ballet and stated that dance training would hurt the “natural” rhythm of black dancers – Dunham rejected both of these stereotypical notions.

46 Dunham Technique

47 Katherine Dunham – Intellectual and African Philosophy
Dance serves as a vehicle for self-awareness, of inner motivations. This is especially relevant for African American culture that was stripped of the connection to its culture, therefore allowing it to rediscovery itself through the dance and creative opportunities. Other modern dancers connected to a rich tradition of ideas - Laban/Wigman, Duncan and Greeks, Graham/Jung. Dunham connects to the African philosophy and African cultures. Her efforts seen through the lens of racism in America. Dunham’s technique iscomprehensive.

48 Katherine Dunham – Anthropologist and Dancer
The Dunham technique blended Western forms of ballet and modern – major influence was the Wigman or German modern dance tradition through a teacher in Chicago. She then translated many aspects of these African diaspora cultures to the stage – rendering ritual ceremonies theatrically convincing outside of their authentic spaces. Part of this included a frank presentation of human sexuality as good, healthy, pleasurable and spiritual – in the African tradition, rather than prurient or erotic.

49 Katherine Dunham She had a successful, happy marriage to John Pratt, a designer. He served her career and company. Dunham also politically brave in refusing to perform in theatres that were not fully integrated. With her integrated company which toured the world. She later defied the US State Dept. by performing a depiction of a lynching in Southland when touring in Argentina. Her integrated company was concerned. She forged ahead. US govt. put barriers to her future international travel. She portrayed women as a sexual being with dignity “acknowledging sexuality as part and parcel of biological, social and ritual life.

50 St. Louis School

51 Pearl Primus Anthropoligist and dance
Bridges the 1st and 2nd phase of Black concert dance


53 Origins Born in Tinidad, Grows up in NYC
Attends Hunter College HS and later Hunter College to study medicine in NYC

54 Dance origins – New Dance Group
Integrated, political and supportive Studies with members of Martha Graham’s company Solo dances immediately draw attention

55 Dunham and Primus shared burden of challenging racial inequality

56 Research – authentic experience
Lives in Southern US for about six months 1944 Late 40’s - travels to West Africa Later work celebrates African dance, philosophy and Afro-American connection

57 Research – Southern travels 1944

58 Key Dances – political statements in 40’s – fight for freedom
Negro Speaks of Rivers – Langston Hughes poem Strange Fruit – Lewis Allen poem Hard Times Blues African Ceremonial

59 Pearl Primus - Hard Times Blues 1943
Pearl Primus Early


61 Pearl Primus Identity – Both Negro and Modern Dancer
These categories in conflict Her dark skin and fleshy body mark her racial identity Authenticity in representing Afro- American suffering Her training marks her within the modern tradition






67 Katherine Dunham – African and African American dance
What shall the Negro Dance About? Question posed in 1933, Worker’s Dance League at Harlem YMCA, following a performance by Hemsley Winfield. Why was this question even asked? Because they were pigeon holed by the minstrel stereotypes. Also due to the disconnection to original African culture - yet by 20th C most Negroes native born Americans. Answers that night, dance about what is vital to him, dance should express the strivings of the new Negro

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