Talley Beatty

(c. 1923—1995)

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(b Cedargrove, La., c.1923; d New York, 29 Apr. 1995)

US dancer, choreographer, and company director. He trained with Katherine Dunham and made his professional debut in her company in 1940, undertaking additional later studies with Martha Graham. In 1946 he left Dunham to perform in musicals, including a revival of Show Boat (1946), as well as in Maya Deren's film, A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945). In 1949 he formed his own company, Tropicana, for which he created Southern Landscape, a work portraying the plight of African Americans in the South after the Civil War. In 1955 he disbanded his company, and focused on giving solo concerts and choreographing for others. His dances frequently highlighted social injustice, particularly for black Americans. A list of his works includes The Road of the Phoebe Snow (1959), the full-length Come and Get the Beauty of It Hot (1960), Powers of Six (1964), and Montgomery Variations (1967). He also created The Black District (1968) and The Stack Up (1982) for the Alvin Ailey company; Poème de l'extase for Cullberg Dance Company in 1972, and Cathedral of Heaven for Batsheva Dance Company in 1973. Other companies with whom he worked include the Boston Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem and he also collaborated with Duke Ellington on two television specials: A Drum Is a Woman (NBC, 1956) and Black, Brown and Beige (CBS, 1974). His tribute to the composer, Ellingtonia, had its premiere at the American Dance Festival in 1993.

Subjects: Dance.

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