Celebrating Black History Month!


Last week’s blog post focused on tappers-up this week is black ballet dancers you should know! There are WAY more than are included here, so as always we encourage you to learn more.

Raven Wilkinson was born in New York City in 1935, and is credited with being one of the first African-American women to dance with a major ballet company-the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She performed with the company for 6 years, and then went on to dance with the Dutch National Ballet and the New York City Opera. She became a mentor to Misty Copeland, another famous black ballerina.

Watch: Black Ballerina

Read: Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson

Arthur Mitchell was born in 1934 and grew up in New York City. He was the first black dancer with the New York City Ballet, and was promoted to principal dancer. He went on to found the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969, and received a Kennedy Center honor in 1993.

Aesha Ash attended the School of American Ballet, and then joined the New York City Ballet. She also danced with Bejart Ballet in Switzerland. In 2011, she founded The Swan Dreams Project. Seen the movie Center Stage? Ash was Zoe Saldana’s dance double!

Desmond Richardson received his training at the High School of the Performing Arts and The Alvin Ailey School. He was the first African American principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, and is the co-artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. He’s received a Tony nomination for his performance in Fosse, has appeared on TV and in films, and is also a master teacher.


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