Donald McKayle, the first African-American to choreograph and direct a Broadway musical, has died on April 6 at the age of 87 in Irvine, California and he was 87 years old, multiple sources have confirmed.
Born on 6 July 1930, to parents both originally from Jamaica, Donald first started her musicals and dance career in his early teens. He received a scholarship to the New Dance Group in 1947. Three years later, he made his Broadway debut as a performer in the original musical revue Bless You All.
Donald McKayle, Broadway and Modern Dance Choreographer, Dies at Age 87
Through the mid-'50s, Donald continued as a performer in some productions as House of Flowers and Cooper and Brass. His first associate choreographer credit on Broadway was for the 1959 Gwen Verdon musical Redhead.
He subsequently choreographed the Broadway productions of I'm Solomon, Golden Boy, and A Time for Singing. His work for the 1964 musical Golden Boy earned Donald his first Tony nomination for Best Choreography.
Donald also succeeded in the dance world outside Broadway: Games, which premiered in 1951 at the Hunter College Playhouse, and Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder, which debuted in 1959, are considered modern classics.
Donald is survived by his wife of 50 years, Lea Vivante McKayle, two daughters from his first marriage, Gabrielle McKayle and Liane McKayle, his son Guy, and two grandchildren.