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Thu, 02.09.1939

Mercedes Ellington, Dancer born

Mercedes Ellington

*Mercedes Ellington was born on this date in 1939. She is a Black Dancer and choreographer. 

Mercedes Ellington was born in New York City to Ruth Silas Batts, trumpet player and conductor Mercer Ellington, son of composer and bandleader Duke Ellington. She was raised by her maternal grandparents, Louise Petgrave Silas and Alfred Silas, who enrolled her in dance and ballet classes at an early age.

Ellington received a scholarship to attend The Metropolitan Opera School of Ballet but enrolled at The Julliard School at her father's insistence. She graduated with her B.A. degree in classical and modern dance in 1960. In 1963, Ellington became the first African American member of the June Taylor Dancers, the featured performers on The Jackie Gleason Show for seven years.

In 1981, Ellington starred in Sophisticated Ladies alongside her father, who conducted the Duke Ellington Orchestra. In 1983, she co-founded BalleTap, later named DancEllington, with Maurice Hines. Ellington produced award-winning choreography in musicals such as Blues in the NightJubaSatchmo, and Tuxedo Junction. In 2004, Ellington founded Duke Ellington Center for the Arts, a non-profit organization dedicated to scholarship, education, and performance connected to the legacy of Duke Ellington.

In 2016, she co-authored a book entitled Duke Ellington: An American Composer and Icon with Stephen Brower.

To Become a Dancer and Choreographer

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