Jones-Haywood School of Ballet and Sandra Fortune-Green

Click above to see Sandra Fortune Green  in Jones-Haywood Orbit – The Constellation Project


Sandra Fortune-Greene

A native of Washington DC, Sandra Fortune-Green began taking dance lessons at age 10 at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet. This school, founded by Doris W. Jones and Claire Haywood in 1941, provided opportunities to learn classical ballet techniques to minority children. Fortune-Green continued her studies at the School of American Ballet in New York City and became a principal dancer for the Capitol Ballet Company.

Fortune-Green represented the United States at the Varna International Ballet Competition, sometimes referred to as the Olympics of Ballet, in July 1976. Before departing for Bulgaria, she visited the White House on June 29, 1976, to meet with First Lady Betty Ford.
First Lady Betty Ford greeting ballet dancer Sandra Fortune-Green and Sylvester Campbell at the White House, 6/29/1976 (White House Photograph B0404-03A)
First Lady Betty Ford greeting ballet dancer Sandra Fortune-Green and Sylvester Campbell at the White House, 6/29/1976.
During the 1970s, Fortune-Green was considered to be the world’s top Black classical ballet dancer. She had been the only American to compete in the Moscow International Ballet Competition in 1973, finishing 26th out of 126 dancers. No ballerina from the US had previously won a medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition, but Fortune-Green was thought to have a good chance of winning one in 1976.
As a champion of the arts and a former dancer herself, Mrs. Betty Ford gave Fortune-Green her best wishes for the competition. “I am grateful for this opportunity to convey both my congratulations and my encouragement as you undertake this difficult but worthwhile challenge,” she wrote in a letter to Fortune-Green. “You will indeed beautifully represent the United States and the vitality of the arts in our nation today. May your journey be successful.”
Fortune-Green received an honorable mention for her performance at the Varna International Ballet Competition. She continued her career as a professional dancer and also taught classical ballet.

Fortune-Green became the artistic director for the Jones-Haywood School of Dance in 2006. She has been the owner of the school since 2007, calling herself “the guardian of the school’s legacy.”



Sandra Fortune-Green and Capitol Ballet

After returning to the United States, Fortune-Green married her high school sweetheart, Joseph Green, on New Year’s Eve of 1975, and later became principal dancer at Capitol Ballet Company.


White House Photograph B0404-03A, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library


More about Sandra Fortune-Green

Prima ballerina Sandra Fortune-Green was born on March 2, 1951 in Washington DC to Elizabeth and Raymond Fortune. Fortune-Green began her dance career at age ten, enrolling in the renowned Jones-Haywood School of Dance under the instruction of Doris Jones and Claire Haywood. Fortune-Green flourished at the school, eventually becoming a principal dancer for the Capitol Ballet Company.

After Fortune-Green graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1968, she pursued her dance studies in New York at the School of American Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, and the Joffrey Ballet before returning back to Washington DC to attend Howard University. In 1972, Fortune-Green left Howard to begin training for the prestigious Second International Ballet Competition in Moscow, Russia. She was the only African American to ever compete in this competition. Fortune-Green was eliminated after the second round of judging, but finished twenty-sixth out of the 126 dancers participating. After returning to the United States, Fortune-Green married her high school sweetheart, Joseph Green, on New Year’s Eve of 1975.

In 1987, Fortune-Green earned a Washington DC Mayor’s Arts Award presented by Marion Barry, and in 1994, she was invited to join the faculty at Howard University’s dance department, where she taught ballet technique classes. Fortune Green is also on the dance faculty at the Duke Ellington School of Arts, a position she has held for more than thirty years. In 2007, Fortune-Green became the new owner of the Jones-Haywood School of Dance, the same studio she attended throughout her adolescence and early adulthood. Years earlier, Jones and Haywood stated in a 1974 interview that they hoped Fortune-Green would continue their legacy.

Fortune-Green has been widely recognized for her efforts within the performing arts, including a designation as an outstanding alumnus from Howard University. Fortune-Green was also featured in two major publications—Black Dance from 1619 to Today by Lynne Fauley Emery and The Black Tradition in Dance by Richard Long.


Sandra Fortune-Green, The History Makers

See also:

Artistic Director, Jones-Haywood Dance School
Where Dancers Extend Their Reach, Washington Post
New Decades of Excellence, Dance Teacher

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