Burnt Marshmallows Taste Good

Carmen De Lavallade was born on March 6, 1931 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Creole parents. She was then raised by her aunt Adele in Los Angeles, California. Her aunt was the owner of Hugh Gordon Book Shop which was one of the first black book stores in that area and her cousin was Janet Collins one of the first black prima ballerinas at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC.  Carmen started dancing at an early age and went on to study ballet with Melissa Blake. After she graduated Thomas Jefferson High School she received a scholarship to study with Lester Horton. Carmen became a member of the Lester Horton Dance Theater in 1949. She became the lead dancer in 1950 and also continued to study different forms of dance like ballet. Carmen made her first Broadway appearance in 1954 in the show House of Flowers by Truman Capote. She also partnered with Alvin Ailey for that performance after he moved to New York. In 1955 she married choreographer and dancer Geoffrey Holder. Carmen danced as a prima ballerina in Samson and Delilah and Aida at the Metropolitan Opera in 1956. She also made her debut on TV in 1956 in John Butler’s ballet Flight. In 1957 she appeared on Duke Ellington’s TV production of A Drum is a Woman.  Carmen also starred in several different movies like Carmen Jones, Odds Against Tomorrow, Death of a Salesman, and Othello in the late 1950s. Carmen went on to become a principal guest dancer with Alvin Ailey’s Dance Company in the 60s. She danced in several different productions throughout the1960s. In 1970 Carmen joined the Yale School of Drama as a performer in residence and as a choreographer.  She eventually became a professor and a member of the Yale Repertory Theater. In the 90s she went back to the Metropolitan Opera as a choreographer for the shows Porgy and Bess and Die Meistersinger.

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