(b New York, 27 Mar. 1934)
US dancer, choreographer, and ballet director. He studied at the High School of the Performing Arts in New York and at the School of American Ballet. He performed on Broadway and with the Donald McKayle and John Butler modern dance troupes before joining New York City Ballet in 1955. He was one of the company's most popular soloists and was the first black dancer to reach the level of principal in an American ballet company. During his fifteen years with NYCB he created roles in many Balanchine ballets, including Allegro brillante (1956), Agon (1957), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Puck, 1962), Trois valses romantiques (1967), Metastaseis and Pithoprakta (1968), and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1968). He also created roles in Taras's Ebony Concerto (1960) and Butler's The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore (1957). In 1966 he became artistic director of the new National Ballet of Brazil. In 1969 he founded (with Karel Shook) the Dance Theatre of Harlem to train black dancers in classical ballet and expand their performance opportunities. He went on to choreograph many works for the company including Holberg Suite, Rhythmetron, Fête noire, and Manifestations, and to lead it on many foreign tours. In 1996 he was awarded the US National Medal of Arts. He has remained the figurehead of the DTH organization, even when the company has had to suspend performances due to financial problems.