The History of Legacy!

Recognizing that our own 52-year history is built on a foundation of iconic artistry and tradition in Black dance, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble takes particular pride in presenting our Spring 2023 concert “Legacy”.  Preserving and performing works of Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, Talley Beatty, and Donald McKayle is a sacred trust that we manifest throughout our own mission and vision.  Even as we honor these roots, we nurture the fruits as well – presenting a new work by innovative choreographer Avree Walker who has been deeply influenced in his own right by the brilliance of these master artists. In the Spirit of Sankofa, we move ever forward, remembering always from where we have come.

Performance Information

Spring Concert, Legacy! will take place at CPRD 119 Park Avenue West, Denver, CO 80205

Dates & Times:
FRIDAY, MAY 12 · 7:30PM · $45 Adult · $35 Youth/Elder
SATURDAY, MAY 13 · 7:30PM · $75 All Premium Tickets · 6:30 pm VIP Cocktail Reception Included
SUNDAY, MAY 14 · 2PM · MOTHER’S DAY $45 Adult · $35 Youth/Elder

Artists and their Works in Legacy!

"Mourner’s Bench" (Excerpt from “Southern Landscape”)

World Premiere 1947 / Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Premiere 2019
This powerful solo from Talley Beatty’s five-part work, refers to the annihilation by the Ku Klux Klan of a mixed-race farming community in the rural South during Reconstruction. The dancer, sitting on the mourner’s bench, has recovered the body of a loved one from the devastated fields after the slaughter, and reflects upon the death of his community, the horror of its ending, and the struggle to sustain hope and strength. Cleo Parker Robinson Dance thanks the Talley Beatty Estate, Philadanco, and Ms. Joan Myers Brown for enabling us to preserve this legacy work.
Choreographer: Talley Beatty
Music: Traditional Spiritual “There Is a Balm in Gilead”

Talley Beatty (December 1918 – April 1995)
Born near Shreveport, LA. Mr. Beatty grew up in Chicago, Illinois. An iconic African-American choreographer, dancer, educator, and company director who initially studied under Katherine Dunham and Martha Graham, he left the Dunham company in 1946 to continue his studies in New York City. His self-described style is “a mixture of Graham connective steps, Dunham technique, and a little ballet with Louisiana hot sauce on it. Throughout a career that encompassed the Broadway stage, film, and nightclubs, he continued to do solo work and choreograph, creating over 50 significant works focusing on the social issues, experiences, and
everyday life of African-Americans.

"La Nina" excerpt from UPROOTED: PERO REPLANTADO

World Premiere University of California, Irvine 2015 /Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Premiere 2018
The focus of the work is on undocumented immigrants in the United States, specifically on the reports and images of young children being carried by their older siblings as they part from their mothers and climb border fences in search of a better life. The author observed the sadness, bravery, and selflessness of both the young children and their mothers. The piece explores the different aspects of being uprooted from one’s country, culture, and genetic memories and replanting oneself in a new land. The dance aims to showcase their rightful claim to belong with no prejudice and their rights intact in their new land, highlighting their and their families’ hard work, sacrifices, and dedication. “I remember when I first saw this work in California how visibly beautiful and thought-provoking it was. And now, in the light of current affairs in our world, I see this work as even more relevant than it was just that short while ago” says Cleo Parker Robinson, Founder, and Artistic Director of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble.
Choreographer: Donald McKayle
Music: Lila Downs (Excerpts from “Border”)

Donald McKayle (July 1930 – April 2018) had a distinguished career in choreography, direction, writing,
education, and performance in dance, theater, film, recordings, and television. He was a prominent figure in
modern dance and had many iconic works such as Games, Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder, District Storyville,
and Songs of the Disinherited. His works have been honored with numerous awards and he was one of the
first black dancers and choreographers to establish a hold in modern dance. Cleo Parker Robinson Dance
holds more of his works in its repertoire than any other company and has acquired his final two works with
the support of his wife and the McKayle Estate.


World Premier 1944 / Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Premier 1994
‘Choros’ is a little jewel of a quartet choreographed by Katherine Dunham in the 1940’s, to music by Vadico
Gogliano and, best of all, with costumes after the witty and vivid original designs of John Pratt. Short, sweet
and blessedly concise, ‘Choros’ evokes traditional ballroom and folk dances performed originally by Brazilian
aristocrats and slaves.
Choreographer: Katherine Dunham
Music: Vadico Gogliano (Based on a Brazilian 19 th Century Quadrille)

Katherine Dunham (June 22, 1909 – May 21, 2006) was an American dancer, choreographer, anthropologist, and social activist. She directed her own dance company for many years and has been called the “matriarch and queen mother of black dance.” Dunham studied anthropology and dance, and she became an innovator in African-American modern dance and a leader in dance anthropology. She choreographed more than ninety individual dances and developed the Dunham Technique, a method of movement to support her dance works. She became one of Hollywood’s first African-American choreographers, and authored many scholarly books and journalistic articles on dance and in the Caribbean.
Dunham was renowned throughout Europe and Latin America and was widely popular in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s.


World Premier 1983/Created by Alvin Ailey for the Aterballetto-Centro Regionale Della Danza of Italy in 1983, set to a score by jazz legend Max Roach.
This ballet was originally choreographed by Mr. Ailey for the Aterballetto – Centro Regionale Della Danza of Italy in 1983 and set to a score by jazz legend Max Roach. A suite of four dances, this piece tells a love story through a fluid combination of modern, jazz and ballet techniques. The central couple is continually surrounded by duets and quartets of dancers who effortlessly move in and out of earthy sensuality and graceful lyricism.
Choreographer: Alvin Ailey
Music: Max Roach

Alvin Ailey Jr. (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989) was an American dancer, director, choreographer, and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT). He created AAADT and its affiliated Alvin Ailey American Dance Center (later Ailey School) as havens for nurturing Black artists and expressing the universality of the African-American experience through dance. His work fused theater, modern dance, ballet, and jazz with Black vernacular, creating hope-fueled choreography that continues to spread global awareness of Black life in America. Ailey’s choreographic masterpiece Revelations is recognized as one of the most popular and most performed ballets in the world.
On July 15, 2008, the United States Congress passed a resolution designating AAADT a “vital American cultural ambassador to the World.” That same year, in recognition of AAADT’s 50th anniversary. Today, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues to honor and extend Ailey’s legacy through its performances, educational programs, and community outreach initiatives. Its commitment to artistic excellence, social justice, and cultural awareness is a testament to Ailey’s enduring impact on the world of dance and beyond.


"And Then There Was Light"

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and World Premiere , Legacy! 2023
Commissioned by CPRD, ‘And Then There Was Light’ is a new dance piece choreographed by Avree Walker which showcases the beauty of honoring the past while celebrating the present and looking forward to the future. This masterpiece conveys the idea that with each new day, we have the opportunity to become better versions of ourselves and the story of human evolution continues. Through the power of dance, And Then There Was Light brings this concept to life.
Choreographer: Avree Walker
Music: “Come Recover’ (Shelter) Son Lux
             “Over the Rainbow” Dave Brubeck
             “Sunflowers” Wynton Marsalis Septet
             “Pines and Flowers”Ezio Bosso

Avree Walker is a dancer and choreographer who received his early training at the West Las Vegas Arts Center and attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He has performed with the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theatre, touring and performing works by various renowned artists. He has also appeared in several regional productions and performed in Donn Arden’s Jubilee! at Bally’s Las Vegas. Currently, he is a swing/dancer in Vegas! on the Las Vegas strip and serves as the resident choreographer for Contemporary West Dance Theatre (CWDT where he is also the Program Artistic Director of the CWDT Conservatory and pre-professional program. In 2019, he became the first full-time African American dance instructor at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts.

About Cleo Parker Robinson Dance: 52nd Anniversary Season, 1970 to 2023

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD) is now celebrating its 52nd anniversary season in 2022/2023, serving the artistic and educational needs of the community. CPRD was founded with the belief that the language of dance transcends the boundaries of culture, class, and age. Our five operational pillars are our world-renowned Ensemble; an Academy serving more than 1,000 students; Arts-In-Education (AIE) programs with movement, cultural outreach, and STREAM theatre tech instruction serving nearly 18,000 students; a 240-seat Theatre and production resources available to rent; and Wellness/Advocacy outreach programs available to communities throughout Colorado. CPRD is a 501 ( c ) (3) non-profit, multi-cultural performing arts organization based in Denver, Colorado. For more information, to buy tickets, attend
classes, or organize AIE outreach programs, please visit or Cleo Parker Robinson Dance on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn

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