Ballet Dancer, Film actor
1917 – 2003
Who was Janet Collins?
After moving to Los Angeles at the age of 4, Collins, received her first dance training at a Catholic community center. Collins studied primarily with Carmelita Maracci, Lester Horton, and Adolph Bolm, who were a few ballet teachers who accepted black students.
Janet Collins was one of the few classically trained Black dancers of her generation. In 1951 she won the Donaldson Award for best dancer on Broadway for her work in Cole Porter's Out of This World. She also performed in Aida, Carmen, and was the first Black ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera. She could not tour in parts of the Deep South due to her race. In later life she taught dance.
Janet Collins was among the pioneers of black ballet dancing and paved the way for others to follow. In 1932, aged 15, she auditioned with success, for the prestigious Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but as she was required to paint her face and skin white in order to be able to perform. She did not join the company.
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