John Warner Dafora Horton was born in Sierra Leone in 1890, and became known in this country as the first to present authentic African music and dance in a theatrical setting. His 1934 Kykunkor was a hit in New York, and he later worked with Orson Welles and John Houseman on a celebrated Federal Theater production of Macbeth set in Haiti. His work served as an inspiration for a later generation of artists, such as Pearl Primus, to incorporate African themes into their work. Dafora was featured on the very first season to be presented in the Ted Shawn Theatre, when dance educator Steffi Nossen shot the films seen here. The new wooden back doors of the stage are clearly visible behind the performers in the outside footage. These brief film clips are the only moving images known to exist of Dafora, whose works have since been revived at the Pillow by Charles Moore and Ronald K. Brown.
EXPLORE JOHN PERPENER’S MULTIMEDIA ESSAY ON ASADATA DAFORA