(photo courtesy of Clark Center NYC)
Fred Benjamin, an African American dancer, choreographer, was born on September 8, 1944 in Boston, and began dancing at age four at Elma Lewis' School of Fine Arts in Roxbury.
He danced with the Talley Beatty Company from 1963 until 1966, when the company folded. Two years later, he started his own New York-based Fred Benjamin Dance Company, which existed, largely without arts funding, for 20 years. Like most African-American choreographers of the time, his work was compared to that of Alvin Ailey, but Benjamin modeled himself primarily after his idol, Beatty. The group movement in his modern ballet "Parallel Lines," the emphasis on entrances in a work such as "Our Thing," and many other works all echoed Beatty's influence. Benjamin added more ballet to Beatty's modern, energized style and helped popularize the genre known as "ballet-jazz".
Mr. Benjamin also worked extensively in theatrical dance. He has taught in the Netherlands, worked in summer stock, and danced with the June Taylor Dancers. On Broadway he worked with Gower Champion and Michael Bennett and performed in such hits as "Hello, Dolly!" and "Promises, Promises."
He introduced many inner-city youth to dance via the Harlem Cultural Council's annual Dancemobile series, but his greatest gift may have been teaching at his own Fred Benjamin Dance Center; New York's Clark Center for the Performing Arts; Steps; Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and as an international guest lecturer at many colleges, universities and private dance studios."by Julinda Lewis-Williams with Bruce Hawkins
UPDATE FROM CLARK CENTER NYC
FINAL RESTING CEREMONY FOR FRED BENJAMIN
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21
JENKINS FUNERAL AND CHAPEL
1893 AMSTERDAM AVENUE
BETWEEN 153RD AND 154TH STREET (ACROSS FROM TRINITY CEMETERY)
THE CEREMONY WILL BEGIN AT 1PM.
IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEND FLOWERS PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SEND THEM TO THE CHAPEL FOR A SATURDAY MORNING DELIVERY.
WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE SHORTNESS OF NOTICE.
THIS WILL BE A BRIEF MOMENT TO SAY OUR FAREWELL AND SEND FRED FORWARD WITH OUR LOVE AND RESPECT.
A MEMORIAL SERVICE IS BEING PLANNED FOR EARLY 2014.