Raven Wilkinson Special Guest on It’s A Question Of Balance with Ruth Copland Saturday 29 August 9-10 PM
This week as her special guest from the arts Ruth Copland is pleased to be interviewing Raven Wilkinson, ballet dancer and actress. Raven was the first black female dancer to be hired to dance full-time in a major ballet company in America. Born in Harlem, New York, Raven began studying ballet at the age of nine studying under Vecheslav and Maria Swoboda, both Moscow Bolshoi Theatre-trained ballet dancers. She also took technique classes at the Ballet Theatre school with Madame Shollar from the St. Petersburg Imperial Russian Ballet. Raven went on to dance for five years with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the corps and as a soloist in Les Sylphides, only leaving when racial prejudice and segregation made it impossible for her to perform in certain Southern American states preventing her from touring fully with the company. After leaving Ballet Russe, Raven auditioned for several ballet companies without success and didn’t dance for several years. Then in 1966, the famous ballet dancer Sylvester Campbell suggested that Raven come and dance with him in The Netherlands with the Dutch National Ballet. Raven was offered a soloist contract and went on to dance with the company for seven years performing soloist roles in Symphony in C, La Valse, The Snow Maidens, and Graduation Ball. Lois Bewley, a dancer with Ballets Russes, American Ballet Theatre, and New York City Ballet, has said that “Of all the dancers I have ever known Raven is one of the most beautiful.” And Arthur Mitchell, principal dancer at New York City Ballet and founder of Dance Theatre Harlem has said of seeing Raven dance she had “beautiful feet” and was “quite lyrical”. Raven retired from ballet in 1973 but went on to perform character roles with the New York City Opera. Raven’s career has inspired many ballet dancers of colour, including the first African-American performer to be appointed as a principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland, for whom Raven has been a mentor.
Tune in Saturday 9-10 PM to find out more about the life and art of Raven Wilkinson. For more info and to hear previous shows visit www.itsaquestionofbalance.com