Donald McKayle

(b. 1930)

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(b New York, 6 Jul. 1930)

US dancer, choreographer, and teacher. He studied with Graham, Shook, and Primus and began dancing in 1948. He performed with many modern dance companies, including those of Graham, Sokolow, Cunningham, and Erdman, as well as the New Dance Group. He appeared on Broadway in House of Flowers (1954) and West Side Story (1957). He choreographed the Broadway productions of Golden Boy (1964), Tale of Two Cities (1967), Black New World (1967), Raisin (1973), Dr Jazz (1975), and Sophisticated Ladies (1981). He also ran his own company (1951–69) for which he created several works exploring his own African-American background. These included Games (1951), a seminal work dealing with issues of racial prejudice (later taken into the repertoire of the Harkness Ballet); Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder (1959), a piece about Southern black chain-gangs (later taken into the Ailey repertoire); and District Storyville, set to New Orleans jazz (1962). He was artistic director of Inner City Repertory Dance Company (1971–4) and then resident choreographer and artistic mentor for the José Limón Dance Company, from 1995. He has also made work for the Cleveland-San Jose Ballet and San Francisco Ballet (Gumbo Ya Ya, 1994). McKayle, an inspirational and influential figure, has taught widely, his posts including professor in the Dance Department of University of California Irvine's School of Arts.

Subjects: Dance.

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