The UCI Libraries current exhibit, “Donald McKayle: Dancing for all Time,” celebrates the life and legacy of Donald McKayle, the recently deceased UCI Distinguished Professor of Dance, with a comprehensive look through the Donald McKayle papers held in the UCI Libraries Special Collections and Archives. The exhibit will be available for viewing until March 20, 2019 in the Muriel Ansley Reynolds Gallery, located in the Langson Library lobby. Please come visit and check it out!
Professor McKayle donated papers and other archival materials to the UCI Libraries covering the period from 1948-1998. The UCI Libraries have recently reformatted many reels of film and video featuring Mckayle’s world-famous choreography in order to preserve these important works. This reformatting project was made possible thanks to a gift fund honoring Caroline A. Laudati, a Rhode Island educator and administrator.
The current exhibit explores four main themes found throughout McKayle’s life: Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher and Social Advocate. Each of these themes is more fully explored in individual exhibit cases, before all are tied together in the large wall case that closely looks at the work Black New World. Black New World is an evening-length concert comprised of several pre-existing dances, like his seminal Rainbow Round My Shoulder and They Called Her Moses, along with several newly created pieces. Black New World premiered in New York City in February 1967 before then touring Europe for approximately six months. The work portrayed the African American experience, beginning with Africans being brought to the New World on slave ships, to the closing number that optimistically took inspiration from the contemporaneous civil rights struggles and advances of the 1960s. Other highlights of the exhibit include his hat from high school with a plethora of pins, pictures of him dancing, his passport when he was on tour throughout Southeast Asia with the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1955, and several choreographic notebooks documenting his choreographic process.
The exhibit was co-curated by Scott Stone, Research Librarian for Performing Arts, and Derek Quezada, Outreach and Public Services Librarian for Special Collections, and was designed by Jennifer Betonio, Allan Helmick and Sylvia Irving.
We celebrated the exhibit opening on Wednesday, November 7 with a fabulous talk and reception. The talk, held in the Student Center’s Crystal Cove Auditorium, featured guests Dennis Nahat, producing manager of The Donald McKayle Legacy, and Debbie Blunden-Diggs, artistic director of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, in discussion with moderator Dr. Jennifer Fisher, Associate Professor of Dance. Both guest speakers had known McKayle for decades and told many stories—some humorous, some poignant and all illuminating—about their time together. Prof. Fisher expertly used her knowledge of dance history and her previous career as a dance journalist to weave these stories together into a talk that shone a light on the humanity and soul of this legendary dance figure. Capping off the talk was a brief presentation with photographs and videos by Nahat highlighting some of McKayle’s later works. Of particular interest was his last work, Crossing the Rubicon (2017), which featured videos that included many current UCI dance majors who were in attendance at this event. After the talk, attendees took a brief stroll over to Jack Langson Library to view the exhibit in the Muriel Ansley Reynolds Gallery and enjoy some delectable Spanish-themed refreshments.
To view the opening night images visit the Libraries’ Flickr page.
To view a recording of the exhibit opening visit the Libraries’ YouTube page.
To listen to a KUCI radio segment about the exhibit and event visit: https://soundcloud.com/kucinews/campus-skinny-1112-the-claire
The exhibit is on display in Langson Library during regular business hours until March 2019.
For more information please contact Scott Stone, Research Librarian for Performing Arts at email@example.com or 949-823-8351 or Derek Quezada, Outreach and Public Services Librarian for Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org or 949-824-4967.