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A Leader in Lyrical Jazz Choreography 

Talley Beatty in his "Mourner's Bench." Photo by Eric M. Sanford

"Mr. Beatty, 'one of American dance's most brilliant talents,' according to Anna Kisselgoff, chief dance critic of The New York Times, was best known for sleek jazz dances that exploded with fast stage crosses from which dancers peeled off for brief solos or ensembles before merging once more into a crowd. But his choreography was rooted in classical ballet and American modern-dance techniques and required highly trained and virtuosic dancers to perform it."

-Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times

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Photo by Eric M. Sanford


"Beatty was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, but grew up in Chicago. When he was 11, a young teacher named Katherine Dunham encouraged him to take dance. Before long he was studying ballet every day. Beatty made his professional debut at 14 with the Chicago Civic Opera, and three years later he joined Dunham’s original company, where he rose to principal dancer and became instrumental in her renditions of Afro-Caribbean dance rituals. Following his appearance in the 1943 film Stormy Weather, he left the troupe to freelance. His extraordinary technique, expressive capacities and musicality made him a sought-after performer. But he continued his association with Dunham for almost six decades, performing with the company in musical theater and film and later as a Dunham teacher."

-Rachel Straus, Dance Teacher Magazine


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