Carmen de Lavallade
National Visionary

Born on March 6, 1931 in Los Angeles, California

Dancer, actress, choreographer

Carmen de Lavallade has captured the spotlight in Broadway musicals, television productions, films, and international performances since 1949.

Ms. de Lavallade as a young lady

Watch a special
Library of Congress
Showcase featureing
Carmen de Lavallade
& Arthur Mitchell

Realplayer Required
Ms. de Lavallade was inspired to be a dancer by her cousin, Janet Collins, the first African American to be a prima ballerina for the Metropolitan Opera. De Lavallade studied dance with Lester Horton in the first all-black American dance troupe, the Horton Dance Theater. In 1954, she danced her way into the Broadway musical House of Flowers, where she met her future husband, dancer and actor Geoffrey Holder. A year later, she performed for the Metropolitan Opera, succeeding her cousin as prima ballerina.

Thanks to an introduction by Lena Horne to a 20th Century Fox filmmaker, de Lavallade made four movies, including her breakthrough performance in Carmen Jones. But her passion to perform kept de Lavallade on stage, where she toured Europe with long-time friend Alvin Ailey, before dancing with the America Ballet Theater.

In 1966, she won the coveted Dance Magazine award for her contribution to the art of dance. She has staged musicals, plays, and operas. She joined the Yale School of Drama in 1970 as a choreographer and performer-in-residence, later becoming a full professor. She continues to teach, travel, and perform.

She has been married to Geoffrey Holder since 1955; they have one son.


Library of Congress WEBCAST: NVLP Showcase - featuring Carmen de Lavallade & Arthur Mitchell (Realplayer required)

Geoffrey Holder's Visionary Page (de Lavallade's husband)

URL (Click to bookmark): http://www.visionaryproject.org/delavalladecarmen