Hazel Spence (Hazel Lorraine Spence Hewitt)

American Negro Ballet

Hazel Spence and Alfred Bledger in rehearsal for American Negro Ballet Company’s debut in 1937.
Hazel Spence was born February 5, 1919 and grew up in Manhattan, NY. Spence was a member of Eugene Von Grona’s American Negro Ballet, starting in 1937. In 1939, she, along with the rest of the company, performed alongside the New York Negro Symphony Orchestra.
Spence was a part of the original cast of Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1939 as a member of Von Grona’s Swing Ballet; the show opened on Broadway on February 11, 1939.

She later moved to Middletown, Connecticut and remained there until her death in 2016. In addition to her career in dance, Spence’s hobbies included travel and gardening, and she was an active member of her local church and Salvation Army.

Spence was great aunt to Alexandra Terry, former member of Ballet West II.


Hazel Spence, Playbill
Which was the First?—a historical essay on the first Black Dance Company in the USA
Dancers of the American Negro Ballet Company rehearse a few days before the premiere at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem: Hazel Spence and Alfred Bledger. (photo)
Hazel Lorraine Spence Hewitt, Tribute Archive

See also:

Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins by Yaël Tamar Lewin

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