Caribbean Dance Class to Celebrate Lavinia Williams Yarborough: Dancer, Educator & Anthropologist

By Walter Rutledge

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On Sunday, June 29th, 3pm, the 10th annual memorial class in honor of the late Lavinia Williams Yarborough will take place, at the Rod Rodgers Dance Studio, 62 E 4th Street. The class will be conducted by Williams long-time student, teaching assistant Noel Nantambu Hall. A reception will follow from 5pm to 6 pm.

Born Grace Lavinia Poole Williams in Philadelphia, she was a leading dancer with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. During she five-year tenure with the Dunham Company she appeared in the Broadway musical Cabin in the Sky and in the films Stormy Weather and Carnival of Rhythm. Williams was instrumental in notating through the use of stick-figures the emerging Dunham Barre Technique; and her notations were published in the 80’s by CORD – the Committee on Research in Dance at NYU.

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Post Dunham, Miss Williams toured Europe with the Noble Sissle revival of Shuffle Along, dancing the role originated by Josephine Baker. She also appeared on Broadway in a revival of Show Boat, My Darling Aida and in Finian’s Rainbow choreographed by Michael Kidd. Her teachers included Kyra Nijinsky, Martha Graham and Anna Sokolow. In 1953 Williams went to Haiti to work with the National Folkloric Troupe and a year later founded and directed the Haitian Institute of Folkloric and Classical Dance, and conducted extensive researched.

Hall began his studies with Williams in 1962 at the University of the West Indies, in Jamaica, and continued until her passing in 1989. Their  relation grew from teacher-pupil to friends, mentor and teaching assistant. A former principal dancer with the Rod Rodgers Dance Company, he has taught nationally and internationally and is a graduate of Empire State College and New York University.

For more information, call Rod Rodgers Dance Company at 212 674-9066 or Noel Hall 718 857-4643. Due to limited capacity a reservation is strongly suggested. The class fee is $15. Participants are asked to bring two bandanas for Danse Congo, and ladies a wide skirt for progressions.

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