Barbara Wright [Craig]

New York Negro Ballet

Wright with Louis Johnson in Johnson’s Variations.

Barbara Wright trained at the Jones-Haywood School and the School of American Ballet’s summer intensive (concurrently with Louis Johnson, Arthur Mitchell, Georgia Collins, and Michaelyn Jackson). As a member of New York Negro Ballet, she performed pieces including Ernest Parham’s Mardi Gras and Louis Johnson’s Variations. She left the company to perform as an “Islander” in the 1957 Broadway production of Jamaica. This production also included Billy Wilson, Alvin Ailey, Lena Horne, Charles Moore, Nat Horne, and Jane Craddock. In a 2018 Ballet Review interview, Louis Johnson listed Wright as one of the remarkable Black dancers who preceded those of Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Edward Fleming, Cleo Quitman, Theodore Duncan, and Wright in Ernest Parham’s Mardi Gras, 1957.


Ballet in Black: Louis Johnson and African American Vernacular Humour in Ballet, Thomas F. Defrantz
Before the Dance Theatre of Harlem: Delores Browne—Black Ballerina, Columbia University Libraries
Barbara Wright, Playbill
Dancing Many Drums: Excavations In African American Dance, Thomas F. Defrantz
A Conversation with Louis Johnson, Ballet Review

See also:

Ward Flemying founds Ballet Americana/New York Negro Ballet, MoBBallet

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