Beatty, Talley (1919–1995) By Dixon, Melanye
Talley Beatty, whose career began in the mid-1930s and extended six decades, was a leading modern dance artist. He was a prolific choreographer, exquisite dancer, and exacting teacher. As a performer, he played a significant role in the establishment of Katherine Dunham’s company, and as a choreographer he played a crucial role in the establishment of Alvin Ailey’s company. Building on Dunham’s example, his works anticipated the stylistic fusion and musicality of Ailey’s repertoire. Yet, as a dance-maker, he addressed issues of social injustice and racial inequality more directly and more forcibly than did Dunham and Ailey. His works set the stage for the modernist dance lexicon that is central to the Black tradition in American concert dance, and his masterworks survive in repertoire as a cornerstone of Black dance.