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To me passion is so essentialit hurts any kind of dance when theres no artistry There are just feats - Donald McKayle Born in July 6th 1930 in New York City Donald McKayle first gained an intense interest and admiration in dance more than half a century ago after a friend brought him to see Pearl Primus a pioneer in African-American dance A first-generation American and the son of Jamaican parents McKayle grew up in Harlem The McKayle family were part of the New York West Indian community which offered social interaction and cultural awareness to a young boy McKayle first danced in public at a West Indian social activity In 1947 Donald McKayle graduated from De Witt Clinton High School While in high school he showed a passion for both folk music and American and African-American history McKayle belonged to a high school chapter of the Frederick Douglass Society and a youth group called Club LOuverture which held folk dances and sings and on weekends he went to hootenannies and danced Latin at the Grand Plaza His choreography later drew from these early experiences and interests McKayle received a scholarship to the New Dance Group From 1947 to 1949 he attended City College of New York McKayles professional debut was with the New Dance Group in 1948 McKayle continued as a performer in the companies of Sophie Maslow and Jean Erdman Then he later danced with the companies of Martha Graham Merce Cunningham and Anna Sokolow In the 1950s he founded and directed Donald McKayle and Company creating such landmark works as Games Rainbow Round My Shoulder and District Storyville between 1951 and 1962 Donald McKayles continuing career spanning over five decades includes performance in dance choreography direction theater film television and education McKayle is best known for his use of dramatic tension and narrative to portray the black experience in his dances Penrod 59 Though
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