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.
Donald 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 barrier 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….