2 3 Throwback Thursday and Janet Collins | Ballet Webb

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Throwback Thursday and Janet Collins

Throwback Thursday and Janet Collins

Before Misty Copeland, before Lauren Anderson and other black ballerinas, there was Janet Collins. She was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 7, 1917. At age five, her family moved to Los Angeles where she began her dance studies with Lester Horton and Adolph Bolm – two teachers that would accept a black student.

At age fifteen, she auditioned for Leonid Massine, ballet master of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and he offered her a position with the company. But when she was told she would have to use white make-up on her face and body in order to perform, she chose not to join the company. Instead, she headed to New York and in 1951 became the first black ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company.

She also performed on Broadway and won the Donaldson Award for best dancer on Broadway for her role in Cole Porter’s Out of This World. She continued to dance into her late forties, until she retired from performing in 1955. It was the same year Arthur Mitchell http://balletwebb.blogspot.com/2014/01/throwback-thursday-and-arthur-mitchell.html was hired by the New York City Ballet. She went on to teach at The School of American Ballet and at Manhattanville College.

Later, she joined a Benedictine order as an oblate and also became an accomplished painter. Janet Collins died in 2003 in Fort Worth, Texas. She was 86.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:
Dance History Factoid #104:  
Janet Collins was an early black ballerina who helped pave the way for those who followed.”

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Quote of the Day:
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 
Maya Angelou

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