Jerry Douglas

The Royal Ballet (1997-2000)
American Ballet Theatre

Photo via London’s Evening Standard, 2000.

Born ca. 1980, Jerry Douglas grew up in Sacramento, California and started dancing jazz in the forth grade. For four years, he took hip-hop classes at Step One’s Sacramento Dance Academy before focusing on ballet at Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet Training. Douglas and his mother fortuitously drove Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Arthur Mitchell to the Sacramento airport when Mitchell offered the young Douglas a scholarship sight unseen. While Douglas could not attend DTH’s intensive that summer, he was able to the following year, 1993.

While a student at Sacramento High, Douglas juggled his classical ballet training with dancing for the high school’s company Jazz and Pizzaz.

After studying at the Royal Ballet School, Douglas was offered positions both at American Ballet Theatre and The Royal Ballet. At 17 years old, he joined the latter in 1997, becoming the first African American to officially join the company and making his debut in Romeo and Juliet. (Previously, Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers performed as guest artists. Douglas was incorrectly named The Royal’s first “black dancer” by the Evening Standard, but Johaar Mosaval performed with the company for more than a decade.)

Douglas became a “popular member of the troupe” but wanted to perform more classical roles, eventually leaving to join American Ballet Theatre in 2000 (Evening Standard). His repertoire with ABT included Stanton Welch’s Clear and Paul Taylor’s Black Tuesday (original cast, 2001).

Douglas now runs a dance school, Douglas Dance.

Jerry Douglas in a 1998 promotion for a performance in his hometown of Sacramento. Photo via The Sacramento Bee.

Leave a Reply