The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
An interview with Lavinia Williams
Repository: New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Collection Description (Extant): An interview with Lavinia Williams, Part 1, documents Lavinia Williams' childhood and the beginning of her dance career. The oral history covers her upbringing in Portsmith, Va., private dance classes with a Russian teacher, the family's move to Brooklyn, the various dance schools she attended, and her winning of a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York City. Williams explains that as a young artist she went to sketch Von Grona's American Negro Ballet during a rehearsal, was asked to audition, and was assigned the leading role in "Firebird." Williams briefly comments on her career with the American Negro Ballet and her work in Agnes De Mille's production "Obeah."
Williams' discussion of her early dance career includes an account of the Katherine Dunham Company. Williams tells of her appointment as a student instructor in charge of choreography. She discusses the shows in which the Dunham dancers performed, the difficulties of being an artist, and the beginnings of the civil rights movement. Williams also discusses the film "Stormy Weather" and her USO tour with Nobel Sissel's of revival of "Shuffle Along." Williams briefly comments on her European experience, her return to America, her appointment in "Show Boat" and "Finian's Rainbow," and her meeting and marrying Shannon Yarborough. Part 1 of the the Lavinia Williams interview ends with Williams commenting on her dance school in Brooklyn, teaching at the Dunham School, and the beginnings her Haiti contract negotiations.
Digital Status: No
Existing IDs: Sc Visual VRA-38a [videocassette]
Extent: 1 videocassette of 1 (U-matic) (92 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in
Finding Aid URL: http://catalog.nypl.org/record=b12034243~S67
Interviewees: Lavinia Williams
Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights
African American entertainers