One of the first, and most prominent, schools for seriously training African-American ballet dancers is among Washington's well-kept secrets. Former Dance Theatre of Harlem ballerina Sandra Fortune-Green has taken over the school that trained her. My article appears in this month's Dance Teacher magazine.
"Sandra Fortune-Green remembers rushing over for class after school let out, setting every hair in place and pulling on pink tights and a black leotard to submit to the vigilant eyes of her teachers, Doris Jones and Claire Haywood. They demanded not only unparalleled technique, but also discipline, manners and impeccable grooming. The renowned ballet school celebrates its 70th anniversary this year with a series of events culminating in a May 15 gala. At its inception, the school was among a few in the country instructing primarily African-American young ladies in classical technique. George Balanchine was known to visit or send scouts to recruit for his School of American Ballet. And, in 1961, Jones and Haywood founded the first African-American ballet company, the Capitol Ballet, seven years before Arthur Mitchell created Dance Theatre of Harlem."