Mel Tomlinson (1954-2019) (20th Century Ballet)
A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Tomlinson became interested in dance after participating in gymnastics in high school. He received a B.F.A. in dance from what’s now the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) after studying there for only two years. After graduation, Tomlinson began touring the country with the Agnes de Mille Heritage Theatre, which was founded at the school.
In 1974, Tomlinson switched his focus from modern dance to ballet, joining the Dance Theater of Harlem, where he quickly rose to the position of soloist, with notable performances in “Manifestations,” “Swan Lake” and “Scheherazade.” He took leave for a time to join Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theater, and in 1981, he joined the New York City Ballet as its only African-American member and was quickly promoted to the rank of soloist. He remained there until 1987, when he returned to his home state and joined the faculty at his alma mater, UNCSA.
Since his time there, Tomlinson has taught on the faculties at Harvard University, Boston Conservatory of Music, Boston Ballet’s CITYDANCE, UNC-Charlotte and what’s now the Charlotte Ballet. Today, he freelances as a guest teacher and choreographer giving master classes and workshops around the world.
Dr. Mel Tomlinson passed away February 5, 2019 at the age of 65. We will always remember our dear Drosselmeyer, and Nut Remix 2019 was dedicated to his memory. Read his full obituary here.