Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Radio City Music Hall
National Ballet of Washington Ballet
Dance Theater of Harlem
Rosemary “Llanchie” Stevenson began her dance training at the Bernice Johnson Dance Studio. She attended the Laguardia High School of Performing Arts in New York City. Determined to follow her passion of ballet, Llanchie aspired to become a ballet major. She was dissuaded from being a ballet major because they feared that she would not find work in the field. However her father rejected that notion and she was allowed to remain a Ballet major until her graduation. She was also a .
Upon graduating from Stevenson at 17 she decided to take a class with Alvin Ailey, he invited her to join the the company. She toured with Alvin Ailey however Mr. Ailey saw in her a ballet dancer and made her keep her pointe work up. Mr. Ailey and encouraged her to audition for The Radio City Music Hall as he thought that she could become the first Black ballet dancers with the group. She was accepted and joined the corps de ballet Radio City Music Hall and was the first African-American to do so. Often they created special roles for her. However when ballet dancers guested with the company she found herself longing to be a ballerina. She auditioned for the School of American Ballet and was given a scholarship. She studied for two years and upon seeing some of her classmate being offered contracts she asked about her prospects, however Balanchine was not ready to have a woman of color in the company – he had a male Arthur Mitchell at the time, a woman of color would “break the corps line”.
Stevenson auditioned for Fredric Franklin at the the National Ballet of Washington where she was accepted as a member of the corps de ballet, and was the only African-American in the company at the time. After performing with the company for a few years, Arthur Mitchell asked her to become a founding member of Dance Theater of Harlem as a principal dancer. Stevenson was the originated the revolutionary aesthetic of skin-toned tights for Black ballerinas.
[sponsored by Scott Munson]