Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Home About the Film Dance Timeline Behind the Dance Biographies Resources Lesson Plans Screensaver
Free to Dance Biographys
previous next
main bio page
Clive Thompson
Born: October 20, 1935
Occupation: dancer
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Clive Thompson began his dance career in high school when he joined Ivy Baxter's Dance Company, Jamaica's first modern dance troupe. Thompson studied traditional West Indian and modern dance with Baxter, ballet at the Soohih School of Classical Dance, and participated in master classes with guest teachers Lavinia Williams, Neville Black, and Anna Niala at the University College of the West Indies. In 1960, he moved to California, where he danced with Lester Horton and Jack Cole. Late that same year, Thompson received a scholarship to study at the Martha Graham School in New York City, and started dancing with Graham's company in 1961. He created roles in Graham's "One More Gaudy Night" (1961), "Secular Games" (1962), and "Circe" (1963). From 1965 to 1967 he was a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He then spent several years as a freelance artist.

A striking-looking dancer with a graceful body, strong technique, and dramatic abilities. Thompson was much in demand, and would frequently perform with Yuriko (another Graham dancer) in her concerts; he also performed with John Butler, Pearl Lang, Talley Beatty, and Geoffrey Holder. Thompson rejoined Ailey's company in 1970; capitalizing on Thompson's balletic abilities, Ailey choreographed roles for him in "Myth" (1971), "The Lark Ascending" (1972), and "Hidden Rites" (1973). Thompson was a leading dancer in the company for many years, leaving it in the mid-1980s. He returned to live in Jamaica where he intermittently taught and worked with the National Dance Theater of Jamaica.

-- Kimberly Pittman

Cohen-Stratyner, Barbara Naomi. BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF DANCE. New York, 1989.
Emery, Lynne Fauley. BLACK DANCE FROM 1619 TO TODAY. 2nd rev. ed. Princeton, N.J., 1988.
Long, Richard. THE BLACK TRADITION IN AMERICAN DANCE. New York, 1989.

Source Citation: "Clive Thompson." ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE AND HISTORY. 5 vols. Macmillan, 1996. Reprinted by permission of Gale Group.