Broadway and Modern Dance Choreographer
Donald McKayle, one of the first choreographers to weave the African American experience into uk moncler sale the fabric of modern dance and the first black man to direct and choreograph a Broadway musical (“Raisin”), died on Friday navigate to this website moncler outlet https://www.monclerdownjacket.biz at a hospital near his home in Irvine, Calif. He was 87.
His wife, Lea Vivante McKayle, confirmed the death. He was a professor of dance at the University of California, Irvine, for almost 30 years.
Mr. McKayle had cheap moncler sale been working on Broadway for more than two decades when he achieved his triumph with “Raisin,” a musical based on “A Raisin in the Sun,” Lorraine Hansberry’s classic drama about a black family struggling with loss, change and identity in midcentury Chicago.
Clive Barnes, in his New York Times review of the production, suggested that the musical was even more evocative than the play, and compared Mr. McKayle to the star choreographer Jerome Robbins.
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“Mr. McKayle comes to the musical theater as a ranking choreographer,” Barnes wrote, “but also like Mr. Robbins, his skill with actors must now be unquestioned.”
The moncler online store show won the 1974 moncler outlet Tony Award for cheap moncler jackets womens best musical, and Mr. McKayle was nominated for both his roles as director of a cast led by Joe Morton and as choreographer.
They were not his first Tony nominations the first was for “Golden Boy,” with Sammy Davis Jr., in 1965 and they would not be his last: He received two more, for “Doctor Jazz” in 1975 and moncler outlet online for “Sophisticated Ladies,” which was his original concept, in 1981.
In 1951, when Mr. McKayle was barely of age, “Games” had its premiere at Hunter College Playhouse (now the Kaye Playhouse). It depicted moncler outlet store urban children at uk moncler outlet play in streets coursing with an undercurrent of fear, and was distinguished by its moncler sale outlet being performed without any orchestral music: The dance was set to a cappella songs and chants associated with childhood games.
When Mr. McKayle’s “Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder” opened in 1959, few New York dance lovers had ever moncler outlet sale seen a chain gang represented onstage before. A line of bare chested men, sometimes holding hands and sometimes intertwining their arms, as if chained together, lamented their imprisonment and dreamed of the cherished women in their lives. In 2016, when the work moncler outlet woodbury was part of Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance season at Lincoln Center, it received a Bessie Award for best revival.
Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder excerpt Video by truthchecknow
Donald Cohen McKayle was born in Manhattan on July 6, 1930, the younger of two sons of Philip McKayle and the former Eva Cohen, both born in Jamaica. When his children were small, the elder Mr. McKayle worked as a maintenance man, for a while at the Copacabana; as World War II approached, he became an aviation mechanic. Donald’s mother did some work in the garment industry, then went back to school to become a medical cheap moncler coats mens assistant.
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Dance was a part of the McKayles’s cheap moncler jackets mens life in their Harlem neighborhood, crowded with West Indian immigrants. Donald moncler sale remembered going with his parents to the Renaissance Ballroom and watching his father pretend to dance on the job, wearing steel wool pads on his feet as he mopped the floor. discount moncler jackets But it was modern dance that entranced the cheap moncler jackets young man.
One day, on his way to best moncler jackets church, Donald noticed a poster showing attractive black people in exotic clothes. It was an ad for Katherine Dunham and her company, the nation’s first self supporting black modern dance troupe. Donald promptly spent $4.50 for a balcony seat to see their show, “Haitian Roadside.”
He soon saw Martha Graham perform but wasn’t sure whether he liked it, he wrote in his memoir “Transcending Boundaries: My Dancing Life” (2002). But, he added, he could not get it out of his mind.
When he was 14 he was enchanted by the first musical he saw, “Finian’s Rainbow.” But it was a dance concert with Pearl Primus, another pioneer in moncler uk outlet introducing African and Caribbean dance to Americans, that sealed the deal. “I want to dance like her,” he announced to a friend that night. And from then on he considered himself a dancer.
Without any formal training, he received, in 1947, a scholarship to the New Dance Group, a moncler outlet prices company dedicated to promoting social change. Three years later he was on Broadway, part of the ensemble in the musical revue “Bless You All,” with Pearl Bailey as headliner. (He attended City College of New York but dropped out in his sophomore year.)
Mr. McKayle worked in film and television as well, choreographing movies like the animated classic “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (1971) and the remake of “The Jazz Singer” (1980), starring Neil Diamond, and earning an Emmy nomination for “Minstrel Man” (1977). He also did the choreography for Marlo Thomas’s landmark TV special “Free to Be You and Me” (1974).
The screen was not his favorite place, however. When Norman Lear, the king of socially conscious 1970s television, offered him a job as director of his newest series, “Good Times,” a “Maude” spinoff starring Esther Rolle, Mr. McKayle accepted, but hesitantly. He directed three episodes. After that, he had to take time off because of an illness in his wife’s family, and he never returned.
His last Broadway contribution was to the revue “It Ain’t Nothin’ but the Blues,” moncler sale online starring Gregory Porter, in 1999.
In addition to his wife of almost 53 years, whom he had met in Israel when she was his dance student, Mr. McKayle’s survivors include two daughters, Liane McKayle and Gabrielle McKayle, both from his first marriage, to Esta Beck; a son, Guy; and two grandchildren.
In a 2008 interview with the publication Backstage, Mr. McKayle was asked what his advice would be for moncler usa young dancers. “Work in as many areas as you can,” he suggested. “The more colors you have on your palette, the more you have to work with, and the more you can aspire to.”.