History Quiz: Talley Beatty

1.  Who was Talley Beatty’s first dance teacher?


2.  Beatty’s choreographic genius was transforming experiences of _____ _____into brilliant physical expressions of the _____ _____.


3.  True or False: Beatty rejected ballet for Afro-Caribbean and modern dance.


4.  What is the name of the first dance that Beatty created for his company?


5.  What part of that work has been deemed a masterpiece?


6.  Name the artist who said, “If you haven’t studied at least four techniques, you’ll never get through one of Beatty’s ballets.”


7.  Which company preserves the most of Beatty’s works?


8.  According to New York Times senior dance critic Anna Kisselgoff, Beatty was “one of America’s _____ and most _____ choreographers.”


9.  True or False: Beatty was a perfectionist taskmaster who was known for his temper.


10. Explain the signature elements found in a Beatty piece.








1.  Katherine Dunham;  2. Social injustice; human spirit;  3. False;  4. Southern Landscape;  5. “Mourner’s Bench”;  6. Judith Jamison;  7. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater;  8. Best; underrated;  9. True; 10. Observations of the harshness of life, and the absence of specific plot or characters.


Photo courtesy of the Dance Magazine Archives.

Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

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Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

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"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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