Donald McKayle, Professor of Dance, Artistic Director of UCI Dance, and Founder/Director of the UCI Etude Ensemble is the recipient of honors and awards in every aspect of his illustrious career and has been named by the Dance Heritage Coalition as "one of America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: the first 100." His choreographic masterworks, considered modern dance classics, Games, Rainbow Round My Shoulder, District Storyville, and Songs of the Disinherited are performed around the world. He has choreographed over seventy works for dance companies in the United States, Canada, Israel, Europe, and South America. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and the Lula Washington Dance Theatre serve as repositories for his works. He is an Artistic Mentor for the Limón Dance Company. In 2003, two retrospective programs honored him: Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley and the Lula Washington Dance Theatre. In 2001, he choreographed the monumental ten-hour production of Tantalus, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in collaboration with the Denver Center Theatre Company.
Five Tony Nominations have honored his choreography for Broadway musical theater: Sophisticated Ladies, Doctor Jazz, A Time for Singing, and Raisin, which garnered the Tony Award as Best Musical, and for which he received Tony nominations for both direction and choreography. For Sophisticated Ladies, he was also honored with an Outer Critics Circle Award and the NAACP Image Award. His most recent choreography for Broadway was showcased in It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, that earned a Tony nomination for Best Musical. He received an Emmy nomination for the TV Special, Free To Be You and Me. His work for film includes Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Great White Hope, and The Jazz Singer. His other media awards include a Los Angeles Drama Logue Award for Evolution of the Blues and a Golden Eagle Award for On the Sound. In dance, he has received the Capezio Award, the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award, the American Dance Guild Award, a Living Legend Award from the National Black Arts Festival, the Heritage Award from the California Dance Educators Association, two Choreographer’s Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Dance/USA Honors, an Irvine Fellowship in Dance, and the 2004 Martha Hill Lifetime Achievement Award. For his work in education, he has earned the Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching, UCI’s Distinguished Faculty Lectureship Award for Research, and he is a recipient of the UCI Medal, the highest honor given by the University of California, Irvine. At the University of California, Irvine he has also been awarded the title of Claire Trevor Professor in Dance, an endowed chair, and inducted as a Bren Fellow.
McKayle has served on the faculties of numerous international forums and
many prestigious national institutions including the Juilliard School,
Bennington College, Bard College, Sarah Lawrence College, the American
Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and was Dean of the
School of Dance at the California Institute of the Arts. His real
educational credentials, however, reside in generations of students, many
of whom are now in professional careers, who treasure his influence.
Routledge Press has published his autobiography, Transcending
Boundaries: My Dancing Life, and a PBS documentary on his life and
work, Heartbeats of a Dancemaker, was aired on PBS stations
throughout the United States.