Hemsley Winfield: The Forgotten Pioneer of Modern Dance

 The second edition may be ordered through Amazon books. 

 It has 511 annotations and 32 images, some have never been published before. 



Video about the career of Hemsley Winfield. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYsbIXXES5w&t=2s                   

    • He danced a solo in NYC in 1927, one year after Martha Graham started her company. 
    • He and his dancers were the first African American modern dance company in the United States, with their first performance in 1931. 
    • He performed with the other modern dance pioneers at the Mecca Theater in NYC in 1932.
He choreographed to original jazz music by Duke Ellington in 1933. 
    • He had a dance school and taught young dancers. One of his students was Archie Savage. 
    • He was the first African American to be contracted by the Metropolitan Opera when he was cast as the Congo Witch-Doctor  in “The Emperor Jones” in 1933. 

"Life and Death" 
choreographed by Hemsley Winfield was first performed at the Saunders Trade Center, Yonkers, NY as part of All Star Benefit Performance for the Colored Citizens Unemployment and Relief Committee on March 6, 1931. (print from personal collection of Dr. Nelson Neal)                                                                                 

Hemsley Winfield was born April 20, 1907 and died January 15, 1934 at the age of 26 years 9 months. Named after his mother Jeroline Hemsley He was an actor, director, dancer, and choreographer in Yonkers, NY. He was a contemporary of Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, and Helen Tamiris. (photo from the private collection of Todd Andersen, grandson of photographer Martinus Andersen)