Thursday, November 6, 2014

#ThrowbackThursday: Carmen De Lavallade

This lovely woman is Carmen de Lavallade, a history making dancer who paved the way for major dancers such as Misty Copeland.

Carmen de Lavallade was born in Los Angeles, California, on March 6, 1931. She was raised in a family of history makers;her aunt, Adele, owned one of the first African-American history bookshops on Central Avenue, De Lavallade's cousin, Janet Collins, was the first African-American prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera.

De Lavallade began studying ballet with Melissa Blake at the age of 16. After graduation from Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles was awarded a scholarship to study dance with Lester Horton, becoming a member of the Lester Horton Dance Theater soon after in 1949 where she danced as a lead until moving to New York City to Alvin Ailey in 1954. She has since made major stage and film appearances besides the likes of Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte.
She married fellow performer, Geoffrey Holder, in 1955. The pair remained together until his passing this past October.