The American Negro Ballet Company formed in 1934 under the direction of Eugene Von Grona. Von Grona, an immigrant from Germany wanted to blend traditional ballet with the cultural and musical traditions of Harlem. He first became enamoured with African-American artists like Duke Ellington after frequent visits to the United States as a child.
Von Grona attracted talent to the all-black company by advertising in newspapers and even offering scholarships. The group of 20 dancers performed with the accompaniment of an all-black symphony. Sadly, the American Negro Ballet Company was short-lived, barely lasting a year after a poorly reviewed debut performance in 1937. The company did, however, inspire other choreographers. Years later, the First Negro Classic Ballet premiered in Los Angeles, and the New York Negro Ballet opened in 1954 and toured internationally.
images via Fotocollectie.