The Capitol Ballet: 1970s Programs


3rd and 5th April

  • The Capitol Ballet Company performed with the Washington Civic Opera Association in The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Western High School Auditorium.

22nd April

    • The Capitol Ballet Company performed with the Lloyd McNeill Jazz Quartet at the Henderson A. Johnson Gymnasium, Fisk University. This performance was part of the Southeastern Regional Ballet Festival. A reviewer praised the “uncommonly talented and well trained group of youngsters” and went on to observe that their “well developed bodies were not only disciplined to perform with firmness and grace, but the dancers were able to project a considerable range of expression through their attitudes and facial changes.”
      • The program was choreographed by Doris W. Jones with costumes by Claire H. Haywood. There were 15 dancers including Hinton Battle, Robin Blair, Theressa Cassese, Leroy Cowan, Laura Fitz, Saundra Fortune, Nokomis Jefferson, Annie McBryde, Richard Moten, Peter Newman, Beryl Thornton, and guest artist Robert Davis. The program included:
        • To Fire and Flame (For Dr. Martin Luther King) danced to the musical accompaniment of traditional spirituals; it was said to be “of high level of interest and achievement.”
        • Bach Variations was “handsomely done by three couples.”
        • The Mendelssohn Suite was “very well danced by Theressa Cassese, Laura Fitz, Robin Blair, and Beryl Thornton” to a movement of Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 also known as the “Italian” Symphony.
        • Grande Pas de Deux from The Nutcracker “danced with considerable style and technique by Saundra [sic] Fortune, elegantly partnered by guest artist Robert Davis.”
        • Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto was “particularly interesting musically as well as balletically….The black and gold of the men’s costumes, and the vari-colored skirts of the girls were most appropriate, and the choreography—though done in ballet terms—had telling ethnic touches.”
        • Asha I with live accompaniment by the Lloyd McNeill Jazz Quartet.
        • The Capitol Ballet Company held a master class taught by company Artistic Directors Claire H. Haywood and Doris W. Jones at the Dance Studio in Old Livingston Hall.

22nd – 24th May

  • The Capitol Ballet Company performed at the Natural History Auditorium, presented by The Smithsonian Associates and The Division of Performing Arts. Lloyd McNeill performed in the premiere of his Washington Suite. The performances also featured John Jones, formerly of the Jerome Robbins Ballet and Harkness Ballet Company.

24th June

  • The Capitol Ballet Guild and the Washington Civic Opera Association perform Little Red Riding Hood and Peter and the Wolf at the Watergate Pavillion sponsored by the Department of Recreation.


10th September

  • The Capitol Ballet Company performs at the Kennedy Center in Beatrix Cenci which was choreographed by Joyce Trisler.
Beatrix Cenci 1971 Courtesy of the Kennedy Center Archives.
Beatrix Cenci 1971 Photo by Fletcher Drake, Courtesy of the Kennedy Center Archives.





11th September

  • Guest artists from The Capitol Ballet Company and the Tri-State Ballet Company in Philadelphia perform at the University of Delaware’s Mitchell Hall as part of the Newark Art Festival.


17th January

  • The first annual benefit fashion-show luncheon for the Capitol Ballet Guild, Inc. was held in the north gallery of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Hosted by television actor Greg Morris, the show “featured fashions by top American designers modeled by dancers from the Capitol Ballet Guild in specially-choreographed sections.”

14th and 15th April

  • The Capitol Ballet Company performed as part of the celebrations for Spelman College’s 91st anniversary. The repertory included Peter and the Wolf.

5th May

  • The Capitol Ballet Company performed Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto as part of “Cabaret Africain” at the Shoreham Hotel held by friends of Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan). The event also included drinks and dinner at the Museum of African Art and performances by the Nigerian fire-dancer Ogunrami and the Federal City College Modern African Dancers.


21st November

  • The Capitol Ballet Company Performed at Cramton Auditorium, Howard University. The repertoire included:


8th April

  • The Capitol Ballet Company performed “Flight Fashions of the ‘70s in Dance,” a fashion show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with commentators Rep. and Mrs. Ronald Dellums (D-California).

1976 – 77

20th November

  • Capitol Ballet has its live series at the Lisner Auditorium (GWU), under the direction of Doris W. Jones & Claire Haywood in association with Sylvester Campbell. The repertoire included:



Music: Vivaldi

Choreography: Joyce Trisler

Artists: Sandra Fortune, Deborah Sullivan, Maria Newby, Sylvester Campbell, Christopher Otway , Marc Edwards



Music: Andre Messager

Choreography: Sylvester Campbell

Costumes: Betty Williams

Artists: Anita Kelley, Joan Cooper, Adrian James



Music: Donald Byrd’s “Cristo Redentor” & “Elijah”

Choreography: Doris W. Jones

Costume Design: Claire H. Haywood

Artists: Maria Newby, Rodney Green


The Jones-Haywood Dance Theatre: Phyllis Morgan, Stephanie Bradley, April Garner, Robin Wilkerson, Toni Cowans, Charles Green, Obie Kinnard, Thomas Kelly, Eric Tutt, Charles Vance, Kevin Bradley



Music: Lucien MenRus

Choreography: Petipa

Costumes: Katherine Gentilucci

Artists: Sandra Fortune, Sylvester Campbell



Choreography: Hinton  Battle

Artists: Marilyn York, Deborah Sullivan, Maria Newby, Tammy Hurt, Renee Robinson, Robyn Nash, Rodney Green, Adrian James, Bernard Banks, Richard Moten 



Music: John Mill Cocker

Choreography: Norbert Vesak

Costumes: Evelyn Miller

Artists: Sandra Fortune, Sylvester Campbell



Music: George Gershwin

Choreography: Doris W. Jones

Costumes: Ingrid Linton & Natalie Garner

Lighting: Joan Arhelger

Sound: Stephanie Bradley

Tapes edited by: Curt Wittig

Wardrobe Mistress: Barbara Hunter

Artists: Sandra Fortune, Sylvester Campbell, Maria Newby, Tammy Hurt, Anita Kelley, Deborah Sullivan, Marilyn York, Carol Foster, Sherri Andersin, Kathy Stockton, Linda Brighthaupt, Rene Robinson, Christopher Otvay, Bernard Banks, Adrian James, Marc Edwards, Thomas Kelley




  • The Capitol Ballet Company performed at the Lisner Auditorium in D.C.
  • The repertoire included: Claire H. Haywood’s Nearer to Thee and works by Doris Jones, Keith Lee, Joyce Trisler, and Walter Raines. The program was described as “an electrifying program which held the audience mesmerized from curtain rise to curtain fall. This is indeed a matured ballet ensemble capable of competing with ballet companies all over the world.”


Applause for Capitol Ballet company

Washington Civic Opera Association

The Washington Civic Opera Association, a non-profit organization seemingly composed of young singers, was incorporated in May 1982 but was active long before this time. According to Civic Opera alumnus William DuPree, who went on to sing with the New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera studio, the company was “thoroughly professional” with productions of a “high level.” Civic Opera’s performances included Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus (March 1 and 3, 1968); The Merry Wives of Windsor (April 1970), Little Red Riding Hood, and Peter and the Wolf (June 24, 1970) with the Capitol Ballet; Bizet’s Carmen (July 1977); and Handel’s Messiah (December 1998). Doris Jones served as choreographer for the company in 1978 and was involved with its productions before then as well.

The Washington Civic Opera Association dissolved its incorporated status in September 1988 but continued performances long after.


Washington Civic Opera Association, Open Corporates
Excerpts from the History of Music in the District of Columbia, Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C.
‘Messiahs’ Delivereith, The Washington Post
Music Festivals At Shenandoah And Marlboro, The Washington Post
District of Columbia Appropriations, 1966: Hearings Before a Subcommittee
Doris W. Jones,
This Week’s Recreation Calendar Of Events, The Baltimore Sun

The Merry Wives of Windsor

Advertisement for the production via The Washington Post

On April 3 and 5, 1970, the Capitol Ballet performed The Merry Wives of Windsor alongside the Washington Civic Opera Association at the Western High School Auditorium. The production was directed by Richard Crittenden with Richard Weilenmann as conductor.

The Merry Wives of Windsor, an opera based on the play by William Shakespeare, was created by German composer Otto Nicolai and premiered in 1849. The comedy follows a knight Sir John Falstaff as he falls in love.


The Merry Wives of Windsor, Wikipedia
The Merry Wives of Windsor (opera), Wikipedia


Lloyd McNeill and the Lloyd McNeill Jazz Quartet

On several occasions in 1970, the Capitol Ballet performed to the musical accompaniment of the Lloyd McNeill Jazz Quartet.
At the Henderson A. Johnson Gymnasium of Fisk University on April 22nd, the company performed Asha I alongside the Jazz Quartet, and McNeill premiered the Washington Suite on May 22nd-24th at the Natural History Museum auditorium.
Lloyd McNeil was a jazz flutist and painter who studied at Howard University and L’École des Beaux-Arts but worked mainly in New York. He taught music at Rutgers University and Mason Gross School of the Arts.


‘Admirable’ Top Word For Ballet, The Tennessean
Lloyd McNeill, Wikipedia

Joyce Trisler

The Capitol Ballet performed the works of Joyce Trisler on two occasions: Dance for Six at the Lisner Auditorium on November 20, 1976 and an unknown piece again at Lisner Auditorium in March 1979.

Choreographer Joyce Trisler was a dancer with the Lester Horton Dance Theatre, Juilliard Dance Theatre, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Her notable works included Four Temperaments, Dance for Six, and Rite of Spring. In addition to choreographing, Trisler staged theatrical productions.


Applause for Capitol Ballet Company, The Baltimore Afro-American
Joyce Trisler, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

“Variegations”: Joyce Trisler, Smithsonian


Flight Fashions of the ‘70s in Dance

Flight Fashions of the ‘70s in Dance was a fashion show sponsored by the Capitol Ballet at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. A flight-themed production, dancers and jazz musicians provided background entertainment as models showcased fashions of the 1970s. Commentary was provided by California Representative Ronald Dellums and his wife. Capitol Ballet dancers performed pieces named after numerous locations—New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore, London, Scotland, Paris, Bulgaria, Haiti, Washington DC, Madrid, Dakar, Jamaica, and Rome—with an imaginary airplane stopping in each location. The cast included notable dancers like Hinton Battle and Sandra Fortune.

Cabaret Africain

On May 6, 1972 at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC, Michigan Representative John Conyers held the Cabaret Africain. This one-time event was hosted by singer and actress Diahann Carroll. The Capitol Ballet performed Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto, and other acts included Nigerian firedancer Ogunrami and the Federal City College Modern African Dancers.


Conyers feted in Capitol, The Baltimore Afro-American

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