Jean Leon Destine

Person
Biography
Jean-Léon Destiné was hailed as the father of Haitian professional dance, and his professional connection with Jacob’s Pillow as a performer and teacher spanned more than 50 years. Born in Haiti in 1918, he learned traditional dance by attending local religious rituals and also sang in a folkloric ensemble. A scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation allowed him to study journalism in the U.S., and he stayed on to dance under the tutelage of Katherine Dunham. Soon after his first Pillow appearance in 1949, he hosted Ted Shawn’s inaugural trip to Haiti, a two-week excursion that Shawn later wrote about extensively, with special emphasis on a memorable Christmas Eve voodoo service. Many more Pillow appearances followed, culminating in a 1970 performance during which a power failure occurred. Proving that “the show must go on,” the dancers continued with the help of flashlights held by audience members in the first row. Destiné returned in 2004 to direct the Cultural Traditions Program in The School at Jacob’s Pillow, and Jack Mitchell’s portrait of Destiné seen here was prominently featured in an 80th anniversary exhibit in 2012. He died at his home in Manhattan in January 2013.
Related Productions
Bal Champetre (dancer)
Bal Champetre (dancer)
Cafe Coumbite (dancer)
Caribbean Bamboche (dancer)
Ceremony Bembe (dancer)
Creole Fantaisie (dancer)
Fantasie D'amour (dancer)
Haitian Dances (dancer)
Haitian Suite (dancer)
Haitian Voodoo Dance (dancer)
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Jaibo (dancer)
La Legende de L'Assotor (dancer)
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Martinique (dancer)
Martinique (dancer)
Martinique (dancer)
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Slave Dance (dancer)
Slave Dance (dancer)
Slave Dance (dancer)
Slave Dance (dancer)
Spider Dance (dancer)
Spider Dance (dancer)
Village Festival (dancer)
Witch Doctor (dancer)
Witch Doctor (dancer)
Witch Doctor (dancer)
Related Works
Bal Champetre (choreographer)
Ceremony Bembe (choreographer)
Jaibo (choreographer)
La Legende de L'Assotor (choreographer)
Meringue Carnavalesquo (choreographer)
Plante Cafe (choreographer)
Slave Dance (choreographer)
Transition (choreographer)
Village Festival (choreographer)
Witch Doctor (choreographer)
Yoruba Bakas (choreographer)
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