Eva Anderson (Columbia, Maryland) – Dancer, Choreographer [inducted 2003]
Our 2001 honoree has dedicated her life’s work to “the beauty of the survival of the human spirit of those Africans who shaped the American character in the beginning of this country’s experiment in democracy and the continuing contribution to what the world knows as American.” She stated in 1999 that “…these 25 years have been interesting, challenging, and rewarding. I look forward to another 50.”
Eva Anderson, daughter of a Presbyterian minister, grew up during the 1930’s in Chester South Carolina. After seeing a 1943 touring company production of Porgy and Bess, Eva knew what she wanted to be. However, she recognized that there was no place for a black girl to take dance lessons. So, formal training was deferred until she received a dance scholarship to Bard College in New York, at age 16. Her first studies followed the style of Martha Graham, but she did not want to be restricted. She studied classical ballet with teachers from the American Ballet Theater and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, as well as African dance with Olatunji, a noted Nigerian.
In 1975, when her husband was promoted, they moved to Baltimore, where she immediately became involved in local dance activities. She joined the Baltimore Dance Theater as a teacher and soon became its assistant director, and later director. Also, she taught dance at Adelphi University, Goucher College and Howard Community College.
Eva Anderson always speaks at her concerts, because for her, dance is about communication. Ms. Anderson says, “everything I create comes from a black experience because I am a black woman with a black mind. But there are no limitations.” She has certain criteria for the dances she choreographs. “…Each dance must have some spirituality, it must have some humor, it must come from everybody’s life experience, it must have elements of blues, it must have audience participation and it must have call-and-response.”
While she still teaches, she doesn’t perform with the troupe anymore, except for speaking. “I am a choreographer” she says. “That is who I am.” She currently lives in Columbia, Maryland and works throughout the Maryland area.
Eva Anderson passed away October 7, 2017 in Columbia, Maryland.