The Jones-Haywood School of Ballet has been one of the premier institutions for the study of ballet and other dance forms in the city, especially for children and teenagers. It was founded in 1941 by Doris W. Jones and Claire H. Haywood. In 1961 Jones and Haywood established the Capitol Ballet Company, a multiracial performing company, as an extension of their school. For its first 20 years, the company was the nation's first professional ballet troupe of predominantly African American dancers. The Capitol Ballet Company folded in 1983 for lack of funds and was revived in 1988. The school, now known as the Jones-Haywood School of Dance, is still in operation, under the direction of Sandra Fortune-Green.
The dancers trained at the school include Sylvester Campbell, Premier Danseur of the Royal Netherlands Ballet Company; Elizabeth Walton, Paul Taylor Dance Company; and Hope Clark, Donald McKayle Dance Company. The Capitol Ballet Company also collaborated with such renowned dancers as Carmen de Lavallade and James Truitte, and their first joint performance was held at Howard University's Cramton Auditorium. The company has performed classic works including Swan Lake as well as original pieces by Jones, including Ebony Concerto and The Rachmaninoff Concerto.
Chita Rivera, who created the role of Anita in West Side Story on Broadway, studied at the school until she was 16. Louis Johnson, choreographer for Purlie and the movie version of The Wiz, was also a student. Sandra Fortune, who began her dance training at the school at the age of 10, became the first black woman to compete in the International Ballet Competition in 1973. She was also the prima ballerina of the Capitol Ballet Company. The school often collaborated with the Emmanuel Dance Center in Anacostia.
Claire Helen Haywood was born in Atlanta. She earned a B.A. degree in English at Spelman College in 1934, an M.A. from Howard University in 1936, and a Ph.D. at Catholic University in 1938. Haywood became a dance student of Doris W. Jones's and together they founded the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet, where Haywood taught until 1978. In 1976 they completed Artists of the Dance, an hour-long documentary on their life and work. Haywood died in 1978. Doris Jones was born in Boston, where she established a ballet school in 1933. She moved to Washington to open the school with Claire Haywood. She also served as the Capitol Ballet Company's artistic director until 1982. In 1980 she formed the Jones-Haywood Youth Dancers to broaden performance opportunities for young dancers. At various times Jones directed the DC Public Schools Dance Program. She died in 2006.
Dance Companies, Capitol Ballet Co., Vertical Files, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
Doris Jones, Vertical Files, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
Claire H. Haywood, Vertical Files, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
Harriett Wallace, “Our Beginning: A Synopsis of a Factual and Pictorial History of the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet from Its Inception to 1981,” Jones-Haywood School of Ballet, n.d.
Alan M. Kriegsman, “The Capitol Ballet, Renewing the Promise,” Washington Post, May 1, 1989.
Alan M. Kriegsman, “Capitol Ballet Capital Night: At UDC, a Fine Inaugural,” Washington Post, May 14, 1988.
Mary Ann French, “Making Her Pointe: Doris Jones, Still Bringing Blacks to the Barre,” Washington Post, May 15, 1993.
Sarah Kaufman, “Ballet and Bootstraps: At 87, Doris Jones Continues to Raise the Barre for Black Students,” Washington Post, May 18, 2000.
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