New Day Jazz
Our guest this afternoon on the 5 o'clock hour, Yaël Tamar Lewin, dance historian, writer, dancer, and most recently author of, Night's Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins, new from Wesleyan University Press
"Night's Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins is an enthralling read. It reinforces Collin's struggle, personal strength and ultimate success. While following her dreams with endless energy, she leapt over boundaries."—Karen Barr, Dance International
The biography of the first African-American prima ballerina
Dancer Janet Collins, born in New Orleans in 1917 and raised in Los Angeles, soared high over the color line as the first African-American prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera. Night’s Dancer chronicles the life of this extraordinary and elusive woman, who became a unique concert dance soloist as well as a black trailblazer in the white world of classical ballet. During her career, Collins endured an era in which racial bias prevailed, and subsequently prevented her from appearing in the South. Nonetheless, her brilliant performances transformed the way black dancers were viewed in ballet. The book begins with an unfinished memoir written by Collins in which she gives a captivating account of her childhood and young adult years, including her rejection by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Dance scholar Yaël Tamar Lewin then picks up the thread of Collins’s story. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with Collins and her family, friends, and colleagues to explore Collins’s development as a dancer, choreographer, and painter, Lewin gives us a profoundly moving portrait of an artist of indomitable spirit.
“With Night’s Dancer, Lewin has produced a major work that continues to correct the absence of historical writing on African Americans in ballet and modern dance. The author incorporates Collins’s own writings, intimate details from the artist’s life, and rich contextual material to create a work that is emotionally touching and incredibly informative.”—John O. Perpener III, author of African-American Concert Dance: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond
“Blessed with extraordinary gifts for dance and painting, Janet Collins broke barriers as the first African-American prima ballerina at the world-renowned Metropolitan Opera. Her life’s journey is inspirational. History should recognize her as one of its pioneers. Janet Collins was truly one of earth’s angels.”—Arthur Mitchell, co-founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem
Blues & Classical & Experimental & Jazz & Poetry & Literature
Missed the Show?