Ruth Williams began her dance training at the age of two with Ella Gordon. She performed in the original Broadway production of Porgy and Bess at the age of three and toured in the UK with the production as well. Williams also studied with Eugene Van Grona when she was 18. She had hoped to become part of the American Negro Ballet but Williams’ mother forbade her to go to Buffalo, New York to perform with the company.
She opened the Ruth Williams Dance School in 1948, in Harlem, New York. Although Williams’ school does not specialize in ballet, it has always offered it. Like her teachers, Williams feels that ballet is foundational in dance training. Former student, now scholar and author Dr. C. S’thembile West, who performed with Chuck Davis and Dianne McIntyre, states that “those were memorable experiences that shaped my development, just as similar events mold contemporary Harlem youth.”
Williams’ work, and that of her students who have gone on to teach, has helped to expose African American children to ballet. With present opportunities that exist in New York for ballet training, Ruth Williams can always send her most gifted ballet students to pursue careers as ballet dancers. Ruth Williams continues to instruct Harlem’s children to dance at her dance studio.
Dr. Joselli Audain Deans
A Legacy of Dance in Harlem Over 50 Yrs., Teacher Hasn’t Missed a Step, Daily News
Ruth Williams Dance Studio Celebrating 65 years of Dance Children & Adult Classes Offered, Harlem One Stop