|Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Charles Moore had early
training in both music and dance. He arrived in New York City in 1948 with
a Weidman scholarship. There he began studying ballet, modern and African
dance from Asadata Dafora, Pearl Primus, and Katherine Dunham. From 1952
to 1960, Moore was a member of Dunham's company.
Tall, with a commanding presence, Moore had a lithe, muscular body and
moved with clarity. Popular as a performer during the 1950s and 1960s, he
danced with the companies of Geoffrey Holder, Donald McKayle, Alvin Ailey,
and in four Broadway shows and two opera productions.
In 1959 Moore began teaching Dunham's technique at the Clark Center in
New York City, then continued at the New Dance Group, Harlem Youth
Activities, and Hunter and Brooklyn colleges of the City College of New
York; he also taught in Jamaica and Europe. An influential instructor,
Moore fused Dunham's technique with his vocabulary of movement developed
from his interest in African dance.
In 1972-1973 he founded the Charles Moore Center for Ethnic Studies in
New York City, and a company, Dances and Drums of Africa. His choreography
evolved from meticulous research in African dance, authenticated with
actual costumes and African drummers. He also revived early pieces of
Asadata Dafora (notably the "Ostrich Dance") and brought
distinguished African musicians to perform and teach in the United States.
From 1973 to 1985, Dances and Drums of Africa toured nationally on the
university circuit, also performing in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Nassau,
and Haiti; in 1980 the company went to South and Central America.
Though Moore never went to Africa, reconstructions of his dances such
as "Bundao," "Maiden's Stick Dance," "Spear Dance," and "African
Congo" were highly respected, and they inspired similar dances in most
repertories of African dance companies in America. Moore died in New York
City in 1986, survived by his wife, the dancer Ella Thompson, whom he had
married in 1960.
-- Derry Swan