The Einstein School turns its attention to the third week of Black History Month as we celebrate the incredible work and achievements of iconic African American Dancers, Broadway Performers, and Playwrights.
Some dance historians have named Katherine Dunham the most important woman of African American dance. Dunham was one of the first modern dance pioneers to create her own modern dance techniques that combined Afro-Caribbean and African American dance movements with elements of ballet. In 1951, Janet Collins made history as the first and only African American dancer promoted to “prima ballerina” status in the Metropolitan Opera. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was known as the father of tap dance. Robinson appeared in a total of fourteen films and six Broadway shows. He performed in movies with child actress, Shirley Temple.
The Harlem Renaissance in New York City in the 1920’s paved the way for African American playwrights to emerge on the Broadway stage in the middle of the twentieth century. A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry was the first Broadway play to be both written and directed by African Americans. Hansberry won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best new play of 1959, making her the first woman and first African American playwright to win the award.
The incredible offerings of this week’s icons is woven into the fabric of where Broadway is today – and where it will be in the future.