Donald McKayle…. Legend

While researching info about African-Americans  on the Chain Gang I ran across this dance piece by Donald McKayle. I was taken with the piece so I started researching more about him. There are so many great legendary people in the black community that go unknown. Our history is deep and being made very day by the brilliant and vibrate talents we possess.

McKayle was one the original dancer in “West Side Story”. I can remember many day as a child trying leaping and dancing  in the house after watching  West Side Story. In my mind I was in  an alley somewhere in  Brooklyn dancing it out. It was only until I ran into  a chair I realizes I was in Columbus, Ohio off Livingston ave.

borntodance_p090202_01sqDonald McKayle has choreographed more than 90 works for dance companies all over the world. He  has worked will all the greats: Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, and  Anna Sokolow.  As many black performer he has pioneered to break many of the racial barriers in the dance  community. Modern dance has always had the stigma of belonging  to the elite in dance. His accomplishments in dance help set the pace  for many dancers today in modern.

I was taken by the purity of voice and from in  his early works. The movement of the black men in the piece “Rainbow Round My Shoulders “ speaks volumes  seeing black men functions a unity in dance and life.  His early work explores  the  poverty, struggles, and sufferings in life.  He combines chants, sounds, and movement to tell a powerful story on living.  His  wrote an autobiography, “Transcending Boundaries: My Dancing Life,”  which I put on my list of must read book for 2011. It has been breathtaking to watch  the footage of  him and his pieces in that last few week.

He is still choreographing around he world. A dancer life is hard. A dancer that is pioneering  new work and breaking DMKlib_242a_pbarrier is even hard.  I am glad I discover his work because it has spoken volume to my soul on new paintings I want to create from  his work. McKayle has danced a permanent  step in my soul. As an artist I want  to express who we are even more in painting of dance and life. He has dance our dance as a people by  just stepping  on the stage….


One thought on “Donald McKayle…. Legend

  1. Hello Ms. McGee, my name is Lawrence Lemon and I am a dancer/choreographer and soon to be published author (I in Columbus,OH. I came across your blog on Donald McKayle while researching on the internet; and I would love to meet with you and talk further about dance, writing, and few other things. If you’d be willing and interested please contact me at Look forward to hearing from you. Be Blessed!



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