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Carmen de Lavallade

Carmen De Lavallade was born, to Black Creole parents she was raised by her aunt who owned an African American bookshop.  De Lavallade began studying ballet with Melissa Blake at the age of 16 and after graduation from Thomas Jefferson High School in L.A., was awarded a scholarship to study dance with Lester Horton where she performed as a lead dancer until her departure for New York City where she joined Alvin Ailey in 1954.  In 1954, De Lavallade made her Broadway debut partnered with Alvin Ailey in Truman Capote's House of Flowers.