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Donald McKayle
Donald Mckayle 2008.jpg
Born (1930-07-06)July 6, 1930
Died April 6, 2018(2018-04-06) (aged 87)
Occupation Modern dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, writer
Years active 1948–present

Donald McKayle (July 6, 1930 – April 6, 2018) was an American modern dancer, choreographer, teacher, director and writer. He was best known for creating socially concert works during the 1950s and 1960s.

Early life

McKayle was born in Harlem, New York.


His instructors included modern dance pioneer Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Anna Sokolow and Karol Shook.

McKayle was "among the first black men to break the racial barrier by means of modern dance." He worked with Martha Graham multiple times during his career.

His work for the concert stage, especially Games (1951) and Rainbow Round My Shoulder (1959), were his best known works. In addition, McKayle was the first black man to both direct and choreograph major Broadway musicals, including the Tony Award-winners Raisin (1973) and Sophisticated Ladies (1981).

McKayle held an endowed chair in the Dance Department at University of California, Irvine, where he was the Claire Trevor Professor of Dance. He previously served on the faculties of Connecticut College, Sarah Lawrence College, and Bennington College.


McKayle died in Irvine, California on April 6, 2018 at the age of 87.

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