“They call it ’jazz ballet’ - but it’s really nothing but Dunham...” -Talley Beatty
Senior Technique Consultant

Walter Nicks (1926-2007) was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. His early dance training took place at Cleveland's Karamu Settlement House, where his talents were recognized by Eleanor Frampton.
Nicks studied dance at the Katherine Dunham School in New York beginning about 1945 under Miss Dunham, Lavinia Williams, Talley Beatty, Tommy Gomez, Archie Savage and Marie Bryant. He also studied with José Limón, Robert Joffrey, Karel Shook, Louis Horst, Doris Humphrey, and others.  Miss Dunham recognized his exceptional talent and in 1947, awarded him a fellowship for study for a Master Teaching Certificate in Dunham Technique, which he received in 1948.
In 1947, even before he received his certificate, he was appointed Assistant Director of Dance at the Dunham School--a position he held until 1953.
Nicks was Dancer and Assistant Choreographer for House of Flowers on Broadway, working under choreographers George Balanchine and Herbert Ross (1954-55). As Assistant Choreographer, he coached a roster of dancers that was a veritable who’s who of African-American dance: Arthur Mitchell, Geoffrey Holder, Carmen De Lavallade, Dolores Harper, Louis Johnson, Donald McKayle, Albert Popwell and Glory Van Scott, among others.
Continue reading about Walter Nicks HERE
Artistic Coordinator
Dr. Glory Van Scott was a principal dancer with the Katherine Dunham, Agnes DeMille, and Talley Beatty dance companies. She appeared on Broadway in House of Flowers, with Pearl Bailey (1954), Kwamina (1961), The Great White Hope (1968), Billy No-Name (1970) and Rhythms of the Saints (2003). Van Scott played the “Rolls Royce Lady” in 1974's film, The Wiz.  She earned a B.A. and an M.A. from Goddard College and a Ph.D. from Antioch Colleges' Union Graduate School. For ten years, she taught Theatre at Bucknell University's Pennsylvania School for the Arts and now teaches "Theatre as Social Change" at Fordham University. Van Scott served as coordinator for WNET's Dance in America - Katherine Dunham: Divine Drum Beats in 2000 and produced The Katherine Dunham Gala at Carnegie Hall and the 2003 Tribute to Fred Benjamin at Symphony Space. She was also project director/artistic coordinator for the Alvin Ailey Company's The Magic of Katherine Dunham and is co-producer of the National Black Touring Circuit, with Woodie King, Jr. of New York Dance Divas. Van Scott was awarded the first Katherine Dunham Legacy Award in 2002.
Technique Consultant/Dancer
Rachel Tavernier was born in Haiti where she began dancing at the age of 5. She received her training in Haiti, Germany, and the United States. Her background includes the study of Dunham Technique, Haitian Folklore, Ballet, Jazz, and Modern.  Rachel has been teaching and choreographing since 1978. She was the director of her own dance studio in Petionville, Haiti before immigrating to the USA in 1989.
Rachel holds the title of Master Instructor in Dunham Technique. She was one of Ms. Katherine Dunham’s primary demonstrators for many years, in Haiti, Philadelphia (Temple University), Washington D.C. (Kennedy Center), East St. Louis (Dunham Seminar), and New York City. She has taught Master classes in Dunham Technique in New York, Philadelphia (Philadanco), East St. Louis (Dunham Seminar), Los Angeles, and Cuba. She has also demonstrated for Julie Belafonte, former member of the original Dunham Company, in Uruguay.
Rachel currently teaches on Long Island, New York, where she resides.  
Consultant, Musician

Mor Thiam (born Mor Dogo Thiam in Dakar, Senegal) is a Senegalese drummer, cultural historian, and entertainment consultant. A member of the Dogon ethnic group, Thiam played drums from before the age of eight and had begun playing professionally by age 12. His surname, Thiam, means "historian" in his native tongue, and he comes from a family whose members use drums to tell the story of Senegal's Wolof people. His instruments include the tama, sabar, and the djembe.

Thiam settled in the United States in 1968, at the invitation of the noted choreographer Katherine Dunham. He settled in St. Louis, where he worked with Dunham and with the Black Artists' Group (BAG), a multidisciplinary arts collective. He has maintained homes in Atlanta and Dakar since the mid-1990s.
In 1973 and 1974, he performed with the jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and has also performed and recorded with the World Saxophone Quartet. He toured Europe with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company (1989). He has also performed and recorded with the cross-cultural ensemble No World Improvisations, with Jin Hi Kim and Joseph Celli.

Thiam regularly serves as a consultant for many African projects around the United States and serves as the executive director of the Stone Mountain, Georgia-based Institute for the Study of African Culture. 

For more information on Mor Thiam click HERE
Chief Consultant
If posterity gives the past its due, Katherine Dunham will be remembered as the pioneering anthropologist/choreographer who introduced African and Caribbean folk movements to American dance theatre, and thereby forever altered its dynamics and direction. 
For the new dance form Miss Dunham created, she formed the Katherine Dunham Dance Company.  She needed to train dancers to be able physically to transmit the complex message she imparted.  She found it necessary to create a series of physical exercises specifically aimed at achieving this goal.  Over time, these exercises developed into what is today an important methodology of dance, “THE DUNHAM TECHNIQUE”.  Miss Dunham’s dual focus on anatomy and anthropology shaped a technique rooted in unique insights into the natural and potential movements of the human body, as well as the multifaceted cultural expressions of the human mind.  Isolations and relationships between form and function are among the innovations it has brought to contemporary dance.
What started as the foundation for one of the most exciting dance companies the world had seen grew to become a major influence on modern-day dancers and choreographers, directly and indirectly. Jerome Robbins, Peter Gennaro, Bob Fosse, Alvin Ailey, and Garth Fagan all derived inspiration from her dynamic technique.  Its original impact continues to be reflected in modern-day productions from Broadway to Hollywood and in contemporary dance companies around the world.  Few today, however, trace their influence to Miss Dunham and the Dunham Dance Company that took the world by storm in the 1940s and 1950s.

Continue reading about Ms. Dunham HEREMsDunham.htmlMsDunham.htmlshapeimage_9_link_0