Mabel Anderson (née Hart)

Negro Unit of Ballet Theatre

Playbill for Four Saints in Three Acts.
Playbill for Carmen Jones.
Born in 1916, Mabel Anderson (née Hart) was a member of the Negro Unit of Ballet Theatre. She was a part of the original cast of Agnes de Mille’s Black Ritual. Her Broadway credits include roles in Run, Little Chillun (1943); Carmen Jones (1943-1945); and Lost in the Stars (as the Young Woman, 1949*).
In 1934, she was one of the six dancers featured in Four Saints in Three Acts, composed by Virgil Thomson and choreographed by Frederick Ashton, with a libretto by Gertrude Stein.
With the Federal Theatre Project, Hart performed in Sweet Land (1936) and Pinocchio (1939).
Along with fellow Negro Unit member Valerie Black, Hart danced in Aida with the National Negro Opera Company in 1941.
Her other theater credits include La Belle Helene in Westport, Connecticut (1941); Lysistrata, also with Valerie Black (1946); and Show Boat (1948).
In the 1930s, Hart taught dance at the Grace Giles Dancing School. She started the Mabel Hart Dance School in the 1950s; the school performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Opera House in 1968.

Hart passed away in 1965.

*Note that Erin K. Maher’s “Ballet, Race, and Agnes de Mille’s Black Ritual” lists 1950 as the year Lost in the Stars premiered.


Black Ritual (Obeah), American Ballet Theatre
Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War by Carol J. Oja
Mabel Hart, Playbill
Pioneers in Negro Concert Dance: 1931 to 1937, Free to Dance
Maher, Erin K. “Ballet, Race, and Agnes de Mille’s Black Ritual.” The Musical Quarterly, vol. 97, no. 3, Fall 2014, pp. 390-428.
Mable [sic] Hart Dance Studio, BAM Archives

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