Lavinia Williams and the Haitian Institute of Folklore and Classic Dance
Lavinia’s classical ballet training was able to blend American dance and Haitian dance into one art form—in other words, “the ballet, voodoo dancing, Latin rhythms and acrobatic dancing, as developed to a high degree on the American stage, have all been fused into what has come to be regar.” While in Haiti, Williams helped found the National School of Dance and the National Dance Troupe of Jamaica, along with the Haitian Institute of Folklore and Classical Dance.
More about the Haitian Institute of Folklore and Classic Dance
“Lavinia Williams, an African-American following in the footsteps of Katherine Dunham, came to teach in Port-au-Prince at the invitation of the Haitian government. [Haitian dancer and teacher Viviane Gauthier] is said to have served as Williams’ assistant at the Haitian Academy of Folklore and Classic Dance in the 1950s and 1960s. Williams, a Katherine Dunham trainee, had been courted away from her dance studio in Brooklyn, New York, by President Paul Magloire around 1951 to start the school in Port-au-Prince, which would train Gauthier along with other Haitian dance stalwarts such as Lynn Williams Rouzier and Régine Montrosier-Trouillot.
Gauthier describes the teaching style of the woman, [who] the Haitians affectionately called Lavinia, as emphasizing discipline in precision of movement, rigidity of the torso and adherence to proper dress-code. Gauthier founded the Viviane Gauthier Dance School at some point later down the line…. Her dance school, which taught children as young as [four] and adults, was known as a ready supplier of dancers to most folkloric dance productions in Haiti. In addition to Haitian Folkore, the school offered training in ballet and modern dance techniques.”