87-Year-Old Donald McKayle passed away on Friday, April 6. This beloved entertainer was a renowned dancer, and performed on Broadway in many wonderful musicals. He was also a renowned choreographer, and many believed it to be a privilege to get instruction from a dancer as beloved as him.
He was born on July 6, 1930, in New York City, but grew up in an extremely diverse East Harlem community. The neighborhood is made up from a mixed group of African-American, Puerto Rican, and Jewish immigrants.
He became interested in dance as a teenager, and although he never received any formal dance training, he was able to earn a scholarship for the New Dance Group in 1947. It seemed to just come naturally to this budding dancer.
Donald won many awards throughout his life. In 1963, he was awarded the Capezio Dance Award, in 1992 the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award, and in 2004 the Heritage Award from the National dance Association.
He worked with many different dance companies, such as the Inner City dance Company. From 1951 - 1969, he even directed his very own dance company, Donald McKayle and Dancers.
During his time as a choreographer, he choreographed 70 pieces for dance companies all around the world, from the United States and Canada to Israel, Europe and South America. Since 1995, he has been a choreographer for the Limon Dance Company.
For more than 30 years, Donald McKayle worked for the University of California, Irvine. He has helped to influence countless dancers in his time, and he has helped to shape the future of dance every day.
Donald’s loss will surely have a lasting effect on dance for years to come, and he will be sorely missed by all who were blessed enough to know him. Please, say a prayer for his family and friends this evening as they face this horrible loss.
This is a horrible story, and we know that sometimes we need a reminder of the good in the world at a time like this, so be sure to check out the video below!