Chita Rivera was born January 23, 1933. She is a Latin American actress, dancer and singer best known for her roles in musical theatre. She is the first Hispanic woman and the first Latino American to receive a Kennedy Honors Center award (December 2002). She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Some of the famed shows that she performed in on the Broadway stage were The Rink, Sweet Charity, Chicago and West Side Story.
Ms. Rivera and Mr. Johnson both received their ballet training while attending the Jones Haywood school of Dance as teenagers. The two also were the first people of color to receive scholarships to the school of American Ballet.
Ms. Rivera recently starred on Broadway in the Musical The Visit.
George Faison was born in Washington, D.C. December 21,1945. At the age of twenty-five Faison was the first African American to win a Tony Award for his choreography in the musical The Wiz. Faison has choreographed more than 30 plays and musicals. He won an Emmy for his choreography in the HBO special The Josephine Baker Story.
Faison has staged and choreographed concerts for such artists as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and the pips and Earth Wind and Fire. He too has choreographed several popular ballets on Alvin Ailey.
Faison’s original plan in life was to be a dentist until he by chance saw Mr. Johnson teaching dance at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Faison recently produced a song and dance version of The Wiz for Summer Stage at Central Park.
Carmen De Lavallade was born in New Orleans March 6, 1931. She is an extraordinary gifted performer who began her career-studying dance with the late Lester Horton.
With elegance and polished technique De Lavallade entranced audiences with the sensual quality of her dancing. So much so that in the 1950’s the late Lena Horne noticed her and introduced her to the filmmakers at 20th Century Fox. From 1952-1955 she appeared in four movies with Century Fox one of which was the historical Carmen Jones.
Carmen met Mr. Johnson during her performance in the Broadway production of House of Flowers. De Lavallade has worked as a choreographer, teacher and actress and continues to do so today at her age of 83. She won the coveted Dance Magazine award for her contribution to the art of dance.
De Lavallade recently toured her one woman show As I Remember It.