McKayle, Donald (1930–) By Morris, Gay
In the mid-twentieth century, Donald McKayle became known for creating powerful modern dance works dealing with contemporary African-American experiences. He also helped break down color barriers in the United States, first as a black dancer working in white modern dance companies, then as a choreographer and director of an interracial dance troupe, and finally as a choreographer of Broadway shows, television programs, and films. McKayle began his professional career in the late 1940s as a dancer with the New Dance Group. He then formed his own company, which he directed while continuing to dance with other major choreographers during much of the 1950s. By the end of the 1960s, McKayle was spending an increasing amount of time on the United States’ West Coast as well as creating choreography internationally in modern dance, ballet, and popular entertainment. From 1989 to 2010, he was a professor of dance at the University of California, Irvine.