Janet Collins, the first black
artist at the Metropolitan Opera,was a prima ballerina
of the Metropolitan Opera House in the early 1950s,
and one of a very few black women to become prominent
in American classical ballet, according to an
article by Jennifer Dunning in the NYTimes on
May 31, 2003.
She faced an upward struggle and
many discouraging moments as she worked hard to
excel in her field.
Adolph Bolm, one of the few ballet
teachers who accepted black students, along with
Lester Horton and Carmelita Maracci, provided
the training that Janet turned into a fruitful
career in dance through her determination, hard
work, and talent.
In 1949 following Ms. Collins'
New York debut, John Martin, dance critic of The
New York Times, called her style an eclectic mix
of modern dance and ballet, describing her as
"the most exciting young dancer who has flashed
across the current scene in a long time".
He went on to say, "There
is a wonderful sense of aliveness in the dancer's
presence and in her moving. She is not self-absorbed,
but is dancing comletely and wholesouledly for
an audience. On the other hand, there is no air
of showing off about it, no coyness or coquetry,
but only an apparent desire to establish and maintain
a communicative contact."
Janet Collins was born in New
Orleans, and moved with her family to Los Angeles
at age 4. She died in Fort Worth on May 28, 2003.