Vanoye Aikens

Vanoye_Aikens_BowingVanoye Aikens

(1917 — August 24, 2013)

Vanoye Aikens was a native of “bip-bap”, GA.  While in his late teens, Mr. Aikens visited New York and, at the advice of Lynwood Morris, auditioned to be in the Katherine Dunham Company.  The Georgia native first arrived in New York City as a young Navy veteran with only $32 in his pocket, but by 1943, he was Dunham’s principal partner. Although not present during his three day audition, Miss Dunham received daily reports from Lavinia Williams and Syvilla Fort that there was “one” potential star.  The rest is history.

Mr. Aikens was accepted into the company and toured with the Original Dunham Dance Company.  Aikens toured more than 50 countries over two decades with Dunham and her company.  The troupe pioneered African-American modern dance from Broadway and Hollywood to top stages worldwide. The company dissolved in 1963. Aikens performed as a singer and actor, scoring a small part in the movie “Cleopatra” starring Elizabeth Taylor.  He settled in Sweden to teach, then moved to Los Angeles and helped Dunham recreate her dances for the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.