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Carmen de Lavallade

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carmen de Lavallade
Carmen de Lavallade receiving the Kennedy Center Honor Medal in 2017
Carmen de Lavallade in 2017
Born (1931-03-06) March 6, 1931 (age 87)
ResidenceNew York City, New York
OccupationDancer, choreographer, actress
Years active1948–present
Spouse(s)Geoffrey Holder (m. 1955–2014; his death)
FamilyJanet Collins (cousin)

Carmen de Lavallade (born March 6, 1931) is an American actress, dancer and choreographer.

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  • ✪ Kennedy Center Honors Highlights 2017
  • ✪ Carib Gold (1956)
  • ✪ Geoffrey Holder, Bond Villain And Dancer, Dies Aged 84
  • ✪ Geoffrey Holder,Eartha Kitt, Gilbert Price, Melba Moore, 1977 Timbuktu! Rehearsal
  • ✪ Meryl Streep (Sting Tribute) - 2014 Kennedy Center Honors


♩ I'm gonna knock you out Mama said knock you out ♩ This is the hottest ticket in town a dazzling celebration showcasing the extraordinary careers of five artists. You can't top this. A powerhouse lineup... What a tremendous group of artists and individuals. Tonight is like my family. ♩ Come on baby Say you love me ♩ Honoring the lifetime achievements of singer-songwriter superstar Gloria Estefan. Really created a cultural legacy that no one really knew before her. Legendary television producer Norman Lear I love him, he's like a second father to me. Without him I wouldn't be standing here today representing my television show Blackish you know. Renowned rapper LL Cool J It's the most incredible thing to actually see that he was the one that was chosen to be the first representative of our culture, to be honored. The grande dame of American dance Carmen de Lavallade To follow in her footsteps just means the world to me. And megamusician Lionel Richie Listening to the way he wrote songs and performed them and now to be out here, it's pretty surreal. This year marks the 40th anniversary for the Kennedy Center Honors, a night that's become famous for big surprises. Estefan, who is the most successful Latin crossover artist in music history, and the first Cuban American to receive the award, is thrilled with the heartfelt performance and blown away when her daughter takes the stage. I'm so emotional. I I really wanted to keep it together so I wouldn't ugly cry on camera, but when my daughter came out... so this has been one of the most magical nights. For those of us who write and create entertainment for a living, Norman Lear is a hero. At 95, Lear is the oldest honoree to date. Norman, I love you. (LAUGHTER) I love you too! From All in the Family and Good Times to One Day at a Time, the television icon is recognized for his art and activism. I thought it was all fabulous, fabulous. I loved the part that was about me. Grammy winner-turned-actor LL Cool J is the first hip-hop artist to don the rainbow ribbon medallion. So I probably wouldn't be a rapper if it wasn't for L, so thanks L! And the youngest honoree ever. I can't even articulate how amazing it was to just be able to join this prestigious class, this club, it's amazing. Now 86, de Lavallade has been blazing trails and shattering barriers all of her life. She's given so much to the art form and to me as a black woman. With countless young dancers following in her footsteps. It was like looking at myself, it was amazing, it was so beautiful, and it was very touching. The grand finale, a biographical video tracking Richie's start as founder of The Commodores before a blockbuster solo career ♩ You are the sun You are the rain ♩ A star-studded tribute ♩ Say you Say me ♩ With a few fun facts from his daughter Nicole along the way. He's honestly this happy all the time, I swear to God. When he answers his phone, he doesn't say hello, he screams "Showtime!" You know when you start thinking of what I'm joining what this fraternity or sorority is that I'm in, it's almost overwhelming to know that I'm thought of in that light. You can watch the ceremony on December 26 at 9 p.m. 8 central on CBS. At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., I'm Tara Mergener.


Early life

Carmen de Lavallade was born in Los Angeles, California, on March 6, 1931,[1] to Creole[French/African mixed] parents from New Orleans, Louisiana. She was raised by her aunt, Adele, who owned one of the first African-American history bookshops on Central Avenue. De Lavallade's cousin, Janet Collins, was the first Creole/African descendant prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera.[2][3]

De Lavallade began studying ballet with Melissa Blake at the age of 16. After graduation from Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, she was awarded a scholarship to study dance with Lester Horton.[4]


Carmen de Lavallade with her husband, Geoffrey Holder, in 1955
Carmen de Lavallade with her husband, Geoffrey Holder, in 1955

De Lavallade became a member of the Lester Horton Dance Theater in 1949 where she danced as a lead dancer until her departure for New York City with Alvin Ailey in 1954. Like all of Horton's students, de Lavallade studied other art forms, including painting, acting, music, set design and costuming, as well as ballet and other forms of modern and ethnic dance. She studied dancing with ballerina Carmelita Maracci and acting with Stella Adler. In 1954, de Lavallade made her Broadway debut partnered with Alvin Ailey in Truman Capote's musical House of Flowers (starring Pearl Bailey).[5]

In 1955, she married dancer/actor Geoffrey Holder, whom she had met while working on House of Flowers.[6] It was with Holder that de Lavallade choreographed her signature solo Come Sunday, to a black spiritual sung by Odetta (then known as Odetta Gordon). The following year, de Lavallade danced as the prima ballerina in Samson and Delilah, and Aida at the Metropolitan Opera.[7][8]

She made her television debut in John Butler's ballet Flight, and in 1957 she appeared in the television production of Duke Ellington's A Drum Is a Woman. She appeared in several off-Broadway productions, including Othello and Death of a Salesman.[9] An introduction to 20th Century Fox executives by Lena Horne led to more acting roles between 1952 and 1955. She appeared in several films, including Carmen Jones (1954) with Dorothy Dandridge and Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) with Harry Belafonte.[9]

De Lavallade was a principal guest performer with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company on the company's tour of Asia and in some countries the company was billed as de Lavallade-Ailey American Dance Company. Other performances included dancing with Donald McKayle and appearing in Agnes de Mille's American Ballet Theatre productions of The Four Marys and The Frail Quarry in 1965. At the insistence of friend John Butler[10], she began teaching at the Yale School of Drama as a choreographer and performer-in-residence in 1970. She staged musicals, plays and operas, and eventually became a professor and member of the Yale Repertory Theater. Students during this time includes Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Joe Grifasi, Christopher Durang, and Wendy Wasserstein.[11] Between 1990 and 1993, de Lavallade returned to the Metropolitan Opera as choreographer for Porgy and Bess and Die Meistersinger.[7]

In 2003, de Lavallade appeared in the rotating cast of the off-Broadway staged reading of Wit & Wisdom.[12] In 2010, she appeared in a one-night-only concert semi-staged reading of Evening Primrose by Stephen Sondheim.[13] In 2014 de Lavallade premiered her solo show As I Remember It. The work was a meditation on her history in dance through performance, film, and storytelling.[14]

Personal life

De Lavallade had resided in New York City with her husband Geoffrey Holder until his death on October 5, 2014.[15] Their lives were the subject of the 2005 Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob documentary Carmen and Geoffrey.[16] The couple had one son, Léo. De Lavallade's brother-in-law was Boscoe Holder.[17]


In 2004, de Lavallade received the Black History Month Lifetime Achievement Award and the Rosie Award (named for Rosetta LeNoire and "given to individuals who demonstrate extraordinary accomplishment and dedication in the theatrical arts and to corporations that work to promote opportunity and diversity"),[18][19] the Bessie Award in 2006, and the Capezio Dance Award in 2007,[8][20] as well as an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York through Purchase College in 2006 and Juilliard School in 2008.[21]

In 2016, de Lavallade received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Obie Awards presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Village Voice for her excellence in off-broadway theater.[22]

In December 2017, she received the Kennedy Center Honors Award.[10] On August 17, 2017, two days after U.S. President Trump's third statement after the 'Charlottesville rally', she announced that she will forgo the related reception at the White House which was later cancelled.[23][24]Although she did attend the dinner at the State Department hosted by Rex Tillerson and emceed by Julie Andrews.[25]


  1. ^ Camille Olivia Cosby; Renee Poussaint (January 27, 2004). A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak. Atria Books. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-7434-7892-2. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  2. ^ Dunning, Jennifer (May 31, 2003). "Janet Collins, 86; Ballerina Was First "Black" Artist at Met Opera". The New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  3. ^ Camille Olivia Cosby; Renee Poussaint (January 27, 2004). A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak. Atria Books. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-0-7434-7892-2. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  4. ^ Judy Gitenstein (August 1, 2005). Alvin Ailey. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-4042-0445-4. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  5. ^ Elizabeth Blair, "At 83, Dancer Carmen De Lavallade Looks Back At A Life Spent Onstage", NPR, October 28, 20144.
  6. ^ Braswell, Kristin (May 25, 2012). "Interview: Carmen de Lavallade: the Saga Continues". Ebony. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Carmen de Lavallade profile, The HistoryMakers, December 12, 2006; accessed October 8, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Lisa Jo Sagolla, "Carmen de Lavallade Wins Capezio Award", Backstage, October 2, 2007.
  9. ^ a b "Carmen De Lavallade",; accessed October 8, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Kaufman, Sarah L. (1 December 2017). "Carmen de Lavallade is 86 and still the best dancer in the room". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  11. ^ Collins-Hughes, Laura (17 May 2014). "At 83, dancer Carmen de Lavallade has stories to tell - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  12. ^ Reference to de Lavallade at; accessed October 7, 2014.
  13. ^ Portantiere, Michael (2011). "Back into the light". The Sondheim Review. XVII (3): 44. ISSN 1076-450X.
  14. ^ "At 83, Dancer Carmen De Lavallade Looks Back At A Life Spent Onstage". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  15. ^ Camille Olivia Cosby; Renee Poussaint (January 27, 2004). A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak. Atria Books. pp. 99–100. ISBN 978-0-7434-7892-2. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  16. ^ "Carmen and Geoffrey (2005" at IMDb.
  17. ^ Dunning, Jennifer; McDonald, William (October 6, 2014). "Geoffrey Holder, Dancer, Choreographer and Man of Flair, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  18. ^ "Amas Musical Theatre benefit on Oct 25 includes concert presentation of 'RAISIN'", BroadwayWorld, October 12, 2004.
  19. ^ "‘Raisin’ to raise roof at ‘Blast’ bash –  Oct. 25 event to fete Holder, De Lavallade, Wilk", Variety, October 12, 2004.
  20. ^ "Capezio Dance Foundation – Awardees" Archived May 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, Capezio.
  21. ^ "6 Honorary Doctorates to Be Awarded at Commencement", The Juilliard Journal, May 2008.
  22. ^ Obie Awards, 2016 Winners.
  23. ^ Carmen de Lavallade, a Dance Legend, to Skip a White House Reception
  24. ^ Statement on her homepage
  25. ^ McGlone, Peggy (3 December 2017). "At the Kennedy Center Honors, plenty of politics make up for Trump's playing hooky". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 December 2017.

External links

This page was last edited on 24 January 2019, at 00:37
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