Raven Wilkinson (1935-2018) broke as rigid a color barrier as could be found in the mid-fifties, when she was hired, in 1955, to join the all-white corps de ballet of Sergei Denham’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She went on to dance with the Dutch National Ballet as a soloist, and (similar to Janet Collins, another ballerina-of-color) New York City Opera. Ms. Wilkinson was a cherished mentor to Misty Copeland as well as to Los Angeles ballet artist and instructor, Robyn Gardenhire. Ms. Gardenhire was deeply inspired by Ms. Wilkinson’s groundbreaking journey as she moved her own career from Joffrey II to American Ballet Theatre, to the White Oak Project, and then, here in Los Angeles, to founding and leading the multiracial City Ballet of Los Angeles. She is now a respected ballet pedagogue at the Colburn School of Music and the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts.
UC Irvine Dance Historian Ariyan Johnson, will join Ms. Gardenhire for a live-in-person program that will educate us and give further understanding to what Wilkinson went through in the ballet world of her time. The presentation also includes performances by LA County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) and Colburn School Ballet Dancers with Saiko Fujii, Colburn School Pianist.
A more comprehensive bio and remembrance for Raven Wilkinson here:
Robyn Gardenhire is the founder and artistic director of City Ballet of Los Angeles, a scholarship school for students from all economic and racial backgrounds. As the artistic director and principal choreographer, Ms. Gardenhire has developed ballets that are classical as well as cutting edge, bringing new stories and perspective to the ballets.
Raven Wilkinson: Celebration of Life and Legacy | The Ebell of Los Angeles | March 19, 4 pm | $25