Death of a breakthrough ballerina, 83

Death of a breakthrough ballerina, 83


norman lebrecht

December 19, 2018

Raven Wilkinson, whose death has been reported, was the first African-American to join a manor international company when she signed with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1955.

After six years with the company, five of them as soloist, she auditioned and was turned down by New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet.

After a stint working in a department store, she found a niche with Dutch National Ballet. In 1974, she joined New York City Opera.



  • Sharon says:

    Is this the dancer who was involved in the touring United States Ballet Russes, got fed up with the prejudice of the audience and surrounding communities (at one place they protested her dancing during and disrupting the performance), and in spite of the fact that the company was willing to keep her on ended up spending many years in Europe perhaps with the Ballet Russes of Monte Carlo

    Whether or not she is the person that I am thinking of I admire her true grit to keep struggling on in spite of all the rejection. A real story of courage and determination!

  • FYI, this archive photo (I believe this is from Giselle performance in 1967) was sent to me by the Royal Dutch Ballet back in 2001 when I requested information on her. So it should be attributed to them.