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2011 Marfield Prize

Yaël Tamar Lewin, Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins (Weselyan University Press)

The Arts Club of Washington named Yaël Tamar Lewin the winner of the sixth annual Marfield Prize, the National Award for Arts Writing, for her biography, Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins (Wesleyan University Press, 2011).

Lewin was honored at a dinner at the Arts Club on May 10th.

Lewin is a writer, editor, dancer, and choreographer. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Barnard College and Columbia University and has performed with several dance companies, including her own. Night’s Dancer is her first book. She lives in New York.

Night’s Dancer chronicles the career of Janet Collins (1917–2003), a classical and modern dancer who in 1951 became the first African-American prima ballerina with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. She also worked with influential choreographers Lester Horton and Katherine Dunham; taught at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet; and appeared in films and on Broadway for Agnes de Mille and Hanya Holm.

Beginning with Collins’ unfinished memoir detailing her early life, Lewin continues the fascinating portrait of the pioneering dancer and choreographer, drawing on her own extensive research and interviews with Collins and her family, friends, and colleagues.

On Wednesday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m., Lewin spoke about Collins and her book in a free public program at the club. She also spoke with students at Washington’s Duke Ellington School for the Arts on May 10th.

2011 Finalists

Robert Greenfield, The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun (Simon & Schuster)

Gail Levin, Lee Krasner: A Biography (William Morrow)

David McCullough, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris (Simon & Schuster)

Meryle Secrest, Modigliani: A Life (Alfred A. Knopf)

2011 Judges

Sophy Burnham, playwright, novelist, and nonfiction writer

Ted Libbey, critic and author

E. Ethelbert Miller, poet

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