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1944 Pearl Primus debuts on Broadway at The Belasco Theatre on October 4.

1945 The Dunham School of Dance opens in New York City, run by dancer Syvilla Forte. Its students include actors Marlon Brando and James Dean.

Talley Beatty appears in filmmaker Maya Deren's A STUDY IN CHOREOGRAPHY FOR CAMERA.

1946 Talley Beatty, Pearl Primus, Alma Sutton, and Joe Nash appear in the 1946 revival of "Showboat," choreographed by Helen Tamiris.

1947 RealPlayer
Talley Beatty choreographs "Southern Landscape," inspired by Howard Fast's book FREEDOM ROAD. It is a dance in five sections: "The Defeat in the Fields," "Mourner's Bench," "My Hair Was Wet with the Mountain Dew," "Ring Shout," and "Settin' Up." (Click on the video clip icon at left to watch a excerpt from "Mourner's Bench.")

Talley Beatty performs in the minstrel ballet "Blackface," choreographed by Lew Christensen for Ballet Society -- the precursor of the New York City Ballet founded by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein.

1948 Pearl Primus receives the last and largest Rosenwald Fellowship to study for 18 months in Africa. Nigerians rename her "Omowale," meaning "child returned home." Her research there influences her subsequent choreography, including "Fanga," a dance of welcome that becomes her signature.

Donald McKayle, a student at the New Dance Group Studio, makes his professional performing debut in dances choreographed by Jane Dudley, Sophie Maslow, and William Bales.

1949 A young Alvin Ailey joins high school classmate Carmen de Lavallade to study at the California-based Lester Horton Dance Theatre studio.

1950 Donald McKayle joins Helen Tamiris' Broadway production of "Bless You All," and does guest performances with Merce Cunningham, Anna Sokolow, and other modern dance choreographers.

Katherine Dunham, after two years touring Europe, returns to Broadway; she will return to the stage again in 1955 and 1962.


1951 - Janet Collins
Donald McKayle choreographs "Games" and premieres it on a Hunter College dance program shared with Helen Tamiris' assistant Daniel Nagrin. Tamiris dances in "Games."

Katherine Dunham choreographs "Southland" in response to racial injustice in the United States.

Janet Collins, Carmen de Lavallade's cousin, becomes the first African-American premiere danseuse of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. She also teaches modern dance at the School of American Ballet.

Mary Hinkson and Matt Turney come to New York from the University of Wisconsin and become the first black dancers to join the Martha Graham Dance Company.


1952 - Louis Johnson
With dancers from the New Dance Group, Donald McKayle debuts his company and premieres "Her Name was Harriet," about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad . He performs with Merce Cunningham, the New York City Opera Ballet, and Anna Sokolow.

Dancer, choreographer, and teacher Louis Johnson makes his debut with the New York City Ballet as a soloist in Jerome Robbins' "Ballade" before appearing in Broadway musicals.

1953 Pearl Primus studies dance in the West Indies, meets and, in 1954, marries dancer Percival Borde. She visits Trinidad and is reunited with Beryl McBurnie (Belle Rosette) who first presented her.

Alvin Ailey becomes director of the Lester Horton Dance Theater when his teacher/mentor dies.