Lester Horton

Lester Horton, a pioneer of American modern dance, was born in 1906 in Indiana..He achieved fame as a dancer, a choreographer, and especially as a teacher. His fascination with American Indian dance tradition encouraged him to take dance lessons. He studied dance techniques in New Mexico and Chicago, as well as in Los Angeles, where he decided to settle in 1920. In Los Angeles, he danced with Michio Ito's Company. Later, he created his own dance group. He also performed at the famous Hollywood Bowl, and at the Greek Theater, while tutoring young dancers. His flair in converting ethnic dances into commercial formats gained him opportunities in films from 1940 to to the early 1950s. In his work, he thrived for originality. He is well-known for paying meticulous attention to all technical aspects of production, including sets, lighting, music, costumes, and so on. He combined dance and drama into fascinating choreography. "The Beloved," choreographed by Horton, was an early featured performance of his Dance Group. It was based on a true story of a husband who trampled his wife to death with a Bible out of rage for her infidelity. His interest in ethnic dance, culture, history, and humanity were articulated in every facet of his work. It is as a teacher that Horton is best remembered.. He was influential in the work of his students and company members as Alvin Ailey, Carmen deLavallade, Janet Collins, Bella Lewitzky, Arthur Mitchell, and James Truitee. In 1946, together with Bella Lewitzky and other group members, he founded the Dance Theater in Hollywood, which was the home of the dance company as well as a dance school. In 1950, the group was dissolved, but Horton kept up the Dance Theater with the help of his business manager, Frank Eng. Horton died in 1953, but the Dance Theater was sustained by Eng until 1960. Horton's dance and drama choreography, productions, programs, teachings and other famous works were documented in "The Lester Horton Dance Theater Collection," now at the Library of Congress. The "Horton Dance Awards," honoring excellence in the field of modern dance, are given annually by the Dance Resource Center of Los Angeles in honor of Lester Horton.