National Institute on Aging

In Memoriam: Charles Rudolph Davis, 1937-2017

Chuck Davis, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on African and African American dance, died at his home in Durham, North Carolina, on May 14. He was 80 years old and had suffered from cancer.

A native of Raleigh, Davis originally planned to go into nursing but fell in love with dance while working in Washington. He took classes in theater and dance at Howard University.

Davis moved to New York in 1963 and formed the Chuck Davis Dance Company in 1967. In 1977, he founded DanceAfrica, a festival celebrating African dance held every Memorial Day weekend for the past 40 years at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Davis was also an instructor at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

In 1983, Davis founded the African American Dance Ensemble in Durham, North Carolina, and remained director until 2015. While in Durham, he taught at Duke University and North Carolina Central University.

Below is a 2015 video of Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble.


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