Caribbean Dance Class to Celebrate Lavinia Williams Yarborough: Dancer, Educator & Anthropologist

Williams photo

On Sunday, June 28th the 11th Memorial Class in honor of the late Lavinia Williams Yarborough will take place, 3:00 p.m. — 5:00 p.m., at the Rod Rodgers Dance Studio, 62 E. 4th Street, NYC. A reception will follow from 5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m. in tribute to Madam’s birthday, which is July 2nd.

NEW YORK, NY, APRIL 22, 2015 — The Lavinia Williams Memorial Class will be conducted by Noel Nantambu Hall. Mr. Hall began his studies with Mme. Williams in 1962 at the University of the West Indies, in Jamaica, and continued until her passing in 1989. Their bond grew from teacher-pupil to friends, mentor and substitute-teacher. A former principal dancer, contributing choreographer and guest-artist with the Rod Rodgers Dance Company, he has taught nationally and internationally and is a graduate of Empire State College and New York University.


Born Grace Lavinia Poole Williams in Philadelphia she was age 73 when she passed on. A leading dancer with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, from 1940-45, Miss Williams was instrumental and visionary in notating through the use of stick-figures the emerging Dunham Barre Technique that Ms. Dunham was developing. Those notations were published in the 80’s by CORD – the Committee on Research in Dance at New York University.

She appeared with the Dunham Company in the Broadway musical “Cabin in the Sky” and in the films “Stormy Weather” and “Carnival of Rhythm.” Post Dunham, Miss Williams toured Europe with the Noble Sissle revival of “Shuffle Along,” dancing the role originated by Josephine Baker. She also appeared on Broadway in a revival of “Show Boat”, “My Darling Aida” and in “Finian’s Rainbow” choreographed by Michael Kidd. Her teachers included Kyra Nijinsky, Martha Graham and Anna Sokolow.

In 1953 Miss Williams went to Haiti to work with the National Folkloric Troupe and a year later founded and directed the Haitian Institute of Folkloric and Classical Dance, and conducted extensive researched.

A luminary in the teaching of Haitian dance, Mme. Williams shared her expertise in Antigua, Bahamas, Germany, Jamaica, Trinidad, and the United States. Her instruction in the U.S. included the Clark Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and STEPS Studio.

“Lavinia will always be remembered for her charming personality, her high-powered master classes and the vital role she played in stimulating interest and support in the dance culture of the Caribbean.” Joe Nash – Dance Historian.

“It is true that Lavinia Williams Yarborough was a great dancer…But for me, Lavinia’s greatest gift to the world was her teaching…she loved her profession and humanity in general.”  (“Miss D”) – Katherine Dunham. Mme. Williams wrote many essays and articles on Haitian dance and her book, “Haiti Dance” is a collector’s item.


To make a reservation call the RRDC, 212.674.9066.  Due to limited capacity a reservation is strongly suggested. The class fee is $20 and includes the reception.  

Media Contact:

Name:  Noel Nantambu Hall
Phone:  718.857.4643
Email address:


See La Danse Noire Website

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