Joan Oberndorf | February 24th, 2013 | Posted in News, People

Here’s your chance to learn about two legends of dance. And theatre. And art…

I love love love it when people (in this case dancers) break out of the box and defy convention.  Think all dancers do is dance, or maybe (just maybe) choreograph or teach?  You need to get yourself down to the DuSable Museum of African American History and learn about two highly accomplished (and multi-tasking) individuals, husband/wife team Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade.

Major multi-faceted careers

The new exhibit “Geoffrey and Carmen: a Memoir in Four Movements” highlights the lives and careers of director/choreographer/ artist/actor/author Geoffrey Holder and his wife dancer/actress/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade.  The two of them were/are major figures in the modern dance world-De Lavallade danced with the Lester Horton Dance Theater as well as Alvin Ailey’s dance company (she is considered his first “muse”), and Holder created pieces for Alvin Ailey and the Dance Theatre of Harlem.  At the age of 82, De Lavallade (especially awe inspiring to me),  is still dancing. “I call it moving,” she told the Chicago Sun Times. “It is very important to keep moving.”

Here she is in 2011, in a short clip from Dances for an iPhone (a series of short dance movies created and choreographed by Richard Daniels):

But I also love that both of these artists didn’t just limit themselves to the dance world. Holder won two Tonys for direction and costume design for The Wiz, works as an actor, and is also a talented painter (some of his work is on display as part of the exhibit at DuSable). De Lavallade has worked as a tv, film and stage actress in addition to teaching at the Yale School of Drama.

photo of Geoffrey Holder and Carmen De Lavallade

Geoffrey and Carmen; she’s wearing a dress that he designed that is on display as part of the DuSable exhibit

More than 90 items from Holder and De LaVallade’s careers are on display, including costumes, paintings, photographs, sculptures, books and designs. There’s also an excellent website at geoffreyandcarmen.dusablemuseum.org that gives you a taste of what this marvelous exhibit is about  BUT you should go see it in person!
“Geoffrey & Carmen: A Memoir in Four Movements” will be at the DuSable Museum of African American History through Memorial Day. The museum is located at 740 E 56th Pl (at 57th St)in Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago. Tickets are discounted for students, seniors, and Chicago residents.