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Lucinda Ransom – A Dancer’s Revelations

Former Dancer Lucinda Ransom at home at Carillon Assisted Living of Wake Forest

Lucinda Ransom has danced on some of the world’s greatest stages. From New York, to Paris, to Rome, she performed for the notable figures of the day and carved out a place for herself among the dance world’s elite choreographers. Google ‘Alvin Ailey’ at the pinnacle of his dance career, and it’s Lucinda Ransom you’ll see dancing next to him. Being part of Ailey’s dance theatre company at its heyday is the highlight of Ransom’s career. In all, Ransom danced for more than 30 years professionally. She retired from the stage in her late 40s, and began the next phase of her life as a dance teacher. Dance is all she has ever known, and dance is all you really need know about Lucinda Ransom.

On how it all started “I was old, when I started. Fourteen is old to be just starting out in dance, you see. Most of the other little girls were little bitty things, and there I was, all long legged and everything. I would have started sooner but we couldn’t really afford it. I’m not sure how my mother did pay for it when I started. All I remember now is that I loved it. I loved it more than I thought it was possible to love anything. And you know what I discovered? I was good.”

On her first big part

“Someone told me there was a new ballet company starting up at the Sherman School. It was 1957, I remember that. They held auditions, and I was chosen. It was fantastic, because I was the only black dancer in the company. We were chosen to dance with some opera companies. I loved Carmen, that was my favorite. I got $15 for each performance. I thought that was wonderful. Getting paid to dance? Wonderful!”

On experiencing racism

“I think there was a perception at that time that African dance was all black dancers could really do. Modern, ballet, abstract dance – there was a lot of curiosity about whether we could do that. I remember auditioning for a production that Agnes De Mille was starting up. She had that curiosity. What could we do, she wondered? Well, she loved us. We were always showing people what we could do. And one day, I realized, I don’t have to prove it anymore. I can just go out there and dance.”

On working with the great Alvin Ailey

“To work with Alvin was to transcend everything. Nothing was the same for me once I started performing

with his dance company. I was in awe of him. We all were. He was so commanding, so different from other choreographers. He wanted his dancers to mean something. He demanded that we be actors and actresses; to dance was not enough. You had to be. He was so articulate. He had a way of conveying what he wanted. There was no grey area, nothing was abstract. You always knew exactly what he meant. He was a revelation all to himself, just like the dance he’s famous for.”

Posted in Sage Stories Tagged , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2016

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