Are you in Canada? Click here to proceed to the HK Canada website.

For all other locations, click here to continue to the HK US website.

Human Kinetics Logo

Purchase Courses or Access Digital Products

If you are looking to purchase online videos, online courses or to access previously purchased digital products please press continue.

Mare Nostrum Logo

Purchase Print Products or eBooks

Human Kinetics print books and eBooks are now distributed by Mare Nostrum, throughout the UK, Europe, Africa and Middle East, delivered to you from their warehouse. Please visit our new UK website to purchase Human Kinetics printed or eBooks.

Feedback Icon Feedback Get $15 Off


Free shipping for orders over $99

Need to access your Online Course or Ebook?

Celebrating the dance contributions of women dancers


MARCH 2024


Matching dancers and students with dance professionals who share their birthday is an excellent way to foster connection with the history of dance. To celebrate Women’s History Month, here are a few pioneering dancers born in March who furthered the development of the art form throughout their careers.

Hanya Holm — Modern Dance Pioneer

Born March 3, Hanya Holm (1893–1992) initially came to the United States to found a modern dance school for German modern dance pioneer Mary Wigman, but that plan didn’t work out as she had hoped. Instead, she began training dancers and created groundbreaking modern dances like Trend (1937) at Bennington College, and it was there she cemented her place as one of the “Big Four” founders of American Modern Dance, along with Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman. To support her modern dance work, she moonlighted on Broadway, choreographing original productions including Kiss Me Kate (1948), My Fair Lady (1956) and Camelot (1960). She taught at Juilliard from 1974 onwards, using improvisational techniques in her classes, and became the beloved teacher of many aspiring dancers and choreographers, including Mary Anthony, Glen Tetley, and Alwin Nikolais.


Carmen de Lavallade — Modern Dancer

Born March 6, Carmen de Lavallade (1931-) was the cousin of ballerina Janet Collins, profiled below, and de Lavallade studied ballet before dancing with California-based modern dancer Lester Horton in the 1950s. Upon Horton’s untimely death in 1953, de Lavallade relocated, along with aspiring dancer/choreographer Alvin Ailey, to New York. The following year, she met her husband, dancer Geoffrey Holder, debuted on Broadway in House of Flowers (1954), and appeared in the movie Carmen Jones (1954) — what a year! She danced with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Donald McKayle, among others, and has continued performing well into her eighties.

Janet Collins — Black Ballerina

Born March 7, Janet Collins (1917–2003) studied with modern dancer Lester Horton and with ballet dancer Adolph Bolm — two of a very few teachers who would accept black students at the time. Although she was a versatile dancer, performing with Katherine Dunham and with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet — the first black ballerina to do so — she faced many barriers to her ballet career because of the color of her skin. After retiring from performing, she taught at the School of American Ballet and at Marymount Manhattan College for two decades, inspiring many other black dancers, including Raven Wilkinson, to pursue a career in ballet.

Cyd Charisse — Movie Musical Dancer

Born March 8, Cyd Charisse (1922–2008) contracted polio as a child and studied ballet to strengthen her muscles. She trained with ballet dancer Adolph Bolm and pioneering choreographer Bronislava Nijinska and danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. In the 1940s she joined the Freed Unit at MGM, making appearances in musicals, but her big break came in the early 1950s. Charisse danced with Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon (1953) in what are considered two of the best musicals produced during the Golden Age of movie musicals (1930s-1950s). Her Broadway debut was in 1989, starring in Grand Hotel, choreographed by fellow Texan — Tommy Tune.

Jean Butler — Irish Dancer/Choreographer

Born March 14, Jean Butler (1971-), an American-born Irish step dancer, is best known for originating the lead female role in the stage show Riverdance (1995). She began studying Irish dance seriously at the age of nine and won competitions and championships throughout her youth and later toured with musical group The Chieftains. She and her co-choreographer Michael Flatley performed a short piece entitled Riverdance during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, and the number was so popular with the international audience that they created a full-length show, which toured worldwide for several years and resulted in a resurgence of interest in Irish dance. She continues to advocate for preserving and celebrating Irish dance, and is an inspiration to many young Irish dancers.

Ruth Page — Dance Advocate

Born March 22, Ruth Page (1899–1991) danced with the original Ballets Russes, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, with Anna Pavlova, and on Broadway before moving to Chicago. She immediately began work to create a more supportive environment for dance in the Windy City by commissioning a young George Balanchine to create a piece on her company in 1925, following his departure from the Ballets Russes and before founding his school and company, the New York City Ballet (NYCB). Page embraced modern dance and Afro-Caribbean dance, giving a young Katherine Dunham her start. She also invited Rudolph Nureyev to make his first appearance in the United States (with her company’s show in New York) immediately following his defection from the Soviet Union in 1962. The Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago is named in her honor for her contributions to dance.


Learn more about these and other dancers on the Today in Dance podcast, hosted by Spotify and available from Apple podcasts and several other platforms.


Cover of Dance Appreciation

Continue exploring and connecting with dance in Dance Appreciation, by Dawn Davis Loring and co-authored by Julie L. Pentz. Dawn has been writing about dance for over 20 years and has published articles and reviews in the Boston Globe, Dancing Times magazine (UK), the Austin Chronicle, and the Journal of Dance Education, among others. She directed the dance and theatre group Mosaic Dance Body for over a decade and served as a dance administrator in Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, and London.