June is Pride Month, and for this year we decided to highlight 5 people who have made a large impact on the dance world and happen to be from the LGBTQ+ community.
Jack Cole is known as the openly gay inventor of theatrical jazz dance, the style that has dominated Broadway stages and Hollywood film sets for decades.
He studied ballet and modern dance, and eventually moved into a commercial career in nightclubs in the 1930s.
His work inspired legends such as Alvin Ailey and Bob Fosse, and can be seen in the work of many modern-day choreographers. One of Cole’s most recognizable pieces was the “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” sequence from the Marilyn Monroe movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
This modern dance choreographer was a student of the great Martha Graham. His avant-garde approach to dance included collaborations with artists in many disciplines such as music, visual arts, and even computer science which resulted in the expansion of frontiers in several industries. Cunningham has been awarded some of the most prestigious awards available to artists, including:
This Canadian choreographer trained at the National Ballet of Canada and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montréal. He served as Artistic Director of the National Ballet from 1996-2005, when he moved to artist-in-residence. He was also appointed as Officer of the Order of Canada that year. He’s known for his bold reworks of classics such as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.
Jeremy McQueen works with the educational branch of the American Ballet Theater and advocates for diversity in dance. He choreographed Madiba, a ballet commissioned by Misty Copeland that centres around the life of Nelson Mandela. He works youth from many backgrounds and focuses on opening opportunities for queer and black dancers.
As creator of the world-renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in New York City, the late Mr. Ailey made a lasting impact on the dance world in both style and hiring practices. Ailey is credited with popularizing modern dance, and was one of the first black artists to be widely known in the field. His awards include the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, the Kennedy Centre Honours, and was chosen to posthumously receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.
There are countless members of the community in the world of dance, and we’re thankful for all that they’ve done! Everyone here at Inspirations wishes you a happy pride and are proud to support our LGBTQ+ innovators everywhere.