top bar
NAACP Image Award for such works as Raisin, Sophisticated Ladies, Doctor Jazz, and A Time for Singing. His film choreography includes Bedknobs and Broom-sticks, The Great White Hope, and The Jazz Singer.
McKayle has received many honors for lifetime achievement including the American Dance Guild Award, a Living Legend Award, the Dance/USA Honors, the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the Irvine Fellowship in Dance. In 1998, McKayle was the first creative artist to receive the UC Irvine Distinguished Faculty Leader-ship Award for Research. Currently, McKayle directs the graduate choreographic thesis projects, and is the Artistic Director of the UCI Dance Department.
In terms of the troupe itself, the UC Irvine Etude Ensemble is an elite group of undergraduates who are chosen annually by audition. Under McKayle's guidance, the dancers are not only dynamic performers, but also historians. According to Amber Bosin, a senior member of the Etude Ensemble, each work must be "deeply understood [and] internalized in order to fully perform the piece." In fact, McKayle says that the members of the Ensemble must "[bring] a sensitive and razor sharp mind filled with inquiry to the complexities of human communication and the transmission of ideas and artis
tic concepts." As a result, the dancers are challenged to personalize each movement by forming an emotional and physical connection to the story itself, as well as to the meaning behind the movement. To the Ensemble's members, it is this dance troupe that shapes their connection and commitment to dance as an art and as a mode of expression.
Since its creation in 1995, the troupe has participated in numerous projects and concerts including those for a CD-ROM Jazz Series, the UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium, the International Black Dance Conference, and the UCI Dance Visions Concert. Members of the Ensemble have successfully pursued professional careers in such dance programs as the Martha Graham Performance Ensemble, Limón West, and Momix. According to Bosin, it is McKayle's support that "guides [the Etude Ensemble] into life after graduation and inspires [the dancers] to promote creativity in whatever careers [they] choose"; according to McKayle, the members are "true colleague[s]" who allow the "benefits of mentorship [to be] manifold and reciprocal.
1Tolstoy, Leo. What is Art? London, 1899.
Donald McKayle
The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal
Donald McKayle
School of The Arts