Sylvester Campbell, Benjamin Feliskdal, and Billy Wilson become founding members of the Dutch National Ballet  


 Nicknamed “The Black Nureyev”, Campbell joined the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam from 1960 where he was able to perform lead roles for many classic ballets.  Campbell was known for his strong technique and sensitive partnering, was a pioneer among black classical dancers. English ballet writer Fernau Hall as possessing ”a classical style of great purity, combined with fire, nobility and all the other classical virtues.”

Campbell traveled to England in 1956 a member of  New York Negro Ballet. When the companies benefactor passed away suddenly the tour came to an abrupt halt. Mr. Campbell remained in Europe, studying at the schools of the Royal Ballet and Rambert Ballet in London and with Russian teachers in Paris. He performed on the BBC, with a touring English revue and with small ballet companies in Europe before joining the Dutch National Ballet



Sylvester Campbell





Benjamin Feliskdal  joins the  Dutch National Ballet


Feliskdal was the first Black Dutch born male ballet dancer to join  the Dutch National Ballet.Born in 1940 January 22, Feliksdal began his professional dance training 1954-1958 in classical ballet and modern dance by well known Dutch pedagogues such as Florrie Rodrigo, Ineke Sluiter and Lucas Hoving (Lemon Company N.Y.C.






During his performing career as principal dancer with Het Nationale Ballet and the Royal Ballet of Flanders he danced different roles with these companies. Swan Lake, Von Rothbart; Romeo and Julia, Tybaldo; Apollon Musagête, Apollon; La Bayadère, Solor; Le Prisonnier du Caucase, The Eagle; The Green Table; Four Temperaments; Symphony in C; Serenade; Les Présages. The climax in his performing career was his partner-role with Rudolf Nureyev in “Monument for a dead boy” by Rudi van Dantzig, which was performed all over Europe. After his professional dance career and leaving in 1971 Het Nationale Ballet and the Royal Ballet of Flanders in 1972, he specialized in methodic ballet teaching and created a modern theatrical jazz dance technique. In the period 1975-1986 he initiated, founded and directed “European School of Jazz Dance”; “Theater Dance Workshop” and “Musical 1986”.


Benjamin Feliskdal

Billy Wilson joins the Dutch National Ballet


Billy Wilson joined the Dutch National Ballet in 1961 where he inspired the choreographer Serge Lifar to create the ballet Othello, just for him.










Billy Wilson, Director/Choreographer, was a native of Philadelphia where he received his early dance training at the Sidney King School. At fifteen, he received a scholarship to study classical ballet with Antony Tudor, artistic director of The Philadelphia Guild Ballet School and company.  At nineteen, he made his New York debut in the City Center production of CARMEN JONES followed by appearances in the Broadway production BELLS ARE RINGING, starring Judy Holiday and JAMAICA, starring Lena Horne. While on tour in London with the musical West Side Story starring Chita Rivera, Wilson was asked to join the Dutch National Ballet.

Billy Wilson went on to choreograph for many Broadway shows such as, Eubie, Merlin, Stop the World, I Want to Get off, Dance a Little Closer, and Bubbling Brown Sugar. He also choreographed for the Emmy winning TV show Zoom.


Billy Wilson

Other Happenings in 1961:


  • Jun 16th Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev defects to West at Le Bourget Airport in Paris
  • 31 August Nederlands Ballet (Sonia Gaskell) and the Amsterdams Ballet (Mascha ter Weeme) merge to form Dutch National Ballet



  • Jan 25th 1st live, nationally televised presidential news conference (JFK)
  • Mar 1st US President JFK establishes the Peace Corp
  • Mar 8th US nuclear submarine Patrick Henry arrives at Scottish naval base of Holy Loch from SC in a record underseas journey of 66 days 22 hrs
  • May 1st 1st US airplane hijacked to Cuba
  • May 25th JFK announces US goal of putting a man on Moon before the end of decade
  • Aug 30th J B Parsons is 1st African American judge of a US District Court
  • Sep 5th JFK begins underground nuclear testing


  • Apr 12th Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first person to orbit Earth (Vostok 1)
  • Apr 17th 1,400 Cuban exiles land in Bay of Pigs in a doomed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro
  • Jul 14th Pope John XXIII publishes encyclical Mater et magistrate
  • Dec 2nd Fidel Castro declares he’s a Marxist & will lead Cuba to Communism

Arts and Sciences

  • Jan 15th Supremes signed with Motown Records
  • Jan 25th Walt Disney’s “101 Dalmations” released
  • Feb 7th Jane Fonda made her acting debut in the NBC drama “A String of Beads”
  • Feb 13th Frank Sinatra launches Reprise label under Warner Bros Records
  • Apr 17th 33rd Academy Awards – “Apartment” wins best film, Burt Lancaster & Elizabeth Taylor win best actor/actress
  • May 1st Pulitzer prize awarded to Harper Lee for her novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”
  • Jun 24th Beatles record “If You Love Me Baby”
  • Jul 24th Edwin Newman becomes news anchor of Today Show
  • Sep 17th Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days,” premieres in NYC
  • Sep 23rd 1st movie to become a TV series-How to Marry a Millionaire
  • Sep 23rd Ernie Banks ends 717 consecutive-games-played streak
  • Oct 18th “West Side Story”, the film adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical, starring Natalie Wood, is released (Best Picture 1962
  • Dec 4th Floyd Patterson KOs Tom McNeeley in 4 for heavyweight boxing title
  • Dec 8th Wilt Chamberlain scores the 2nd highest total in the NBA – 78

Human and Civil Rights

  •  Jan 3rd Adam Clayton Powell elected Chairman of House Education
  • Jan 11th Racial riot at University of Georgia
  • Feb 11th Robert Weaver sworn in with then highest federal post by a black
  • Mar 27th Black demonstrators in Charleston staged ride-ins on street cars
  • Mar 29th After a 4½ year trial Nelson Mandela is acquitted of treason in Pretoria
  • May 4th CORE begins freedom rides from Washington, D.C.
  • May 14th Bus with 1st group of Freedom Riders bombed & burned in Alabama
  • May 20th White mob attacks “Freedom Riders” in Montgomery, Alabama
  • May 24th 27 Freedom Riders arrested in Jackson, Mississippi
  • May 26th Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee establishes in Atlanta
  • Aug 9th James B Parsons is 1st black appointed to Federal District Court
  • Aug 16th Martin L King protests for black voting rights in Miami
  • Sep 20th James Meredith refused access as a student in Mississippi
  • Nov 29th Freedom Riders attacked by white mob at bus station in Miss
  • Dec 12th Martin Luther King Jr. & 700 demonstrators arrested in Albany Ga


  • Feb 12th Celtic Bill Russell grabs 40 rebounds to beat Warriors 136
  • Mar 13th Floyd Patterson KOs Ingemar Johansson in 6 for heavyweight boxing title
  • Apr 30th SF Giant Willie Mays hits 4 HRs in a game
  • Jun 8th Milwaukee sets record of 4 consecutive HRs (Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock & Frank Thomas)
  • Jun 19th NY Yankee Roger Maris hits his 25th of 61 HRs
  • Sep 10th Mickey Mantle becomes 7th to hit HR # 400


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