Remembering Donald McKayle

Remembering Donald McKayle

Donald McKayle

Donald McKayle was a legend in dance, with a long list of accolades, awards and accomplishments well-documented after his recent passing. But those of us who were lucky enough to be his students, either in a classroom or rehearsal studio, know he displayed his greatest talent in his role of master teacher.

here are hundreds, if not thousands, of dancers around the world who were lucky enough to work with him and many have stories they'd like to share. These are not necessarily stories of a man who won Tonys or broke through walls in the world of modern dance, but stories of their teacher, Donald McKayle.

I am one of them. I met Mr. McKayle in 2004 when I was a graduate student in dance at the University of California, Irvine. I was his teaching assistant for two years while studying at UCI and, upon graduation, he asked me to begin restaging his works around the country.

He was also the man who performed the wedding ceremony for my husband and me. I'll never forget when I casually asked him in the hallway of the dance department if he would go online to become an ordained minister to officiate my marriage. He turned to me and said, "Amy Sennett, you continually inspire and challenge me."