Mary Hinkson was one of Martha Graham's leading dancers for more than twenty years starting in 1951, and she also gained distinction in works by Donald McKayle, John Butler, and Glen Tetley. She was born in Philadelphia, but gained her primary dance education at the University of Wisconsin, where she received a master’s degree in 1947. Along with fellow UW student Matt Turney, Hinkson became one of the first two black dancers to join the Graham company. Her Graham repertory included leading roles in Cave of the Heart
, Seraphic Dialogue
, and Diversion of Angels
. She also performed the title role in Circe, which Graham created for her in 1963. Among the roles she performed at the Pillow was Donald McKayle’s classic Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder
, which she had premiered with McKayle in 1959. Hinkson briefly co-directed the Graham company with Bertram Ross in the early 1970s, and devoted her last decades to teaching, serving as a mentor to important dancers including Christian Holder and Desmond Richardson. Just days before her death in November 2014 at 89, she received the prestigious Martha Hill Award.