Director of Community Engagement and Education
April Berry, dance director, master teacher, educator, and internationally acclaimed principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, was born and raised in New York. Ms. Berry began her professional training in ballet at the National Academy of Ballet and Theatre Arts in New York City under the founding direction of Thalia Mara, also founder of the prestigious International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. As a young dance student Ms. Berry was a scholarship student and a company apprentice with the Dance Theatre of Harlem under directors Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook. Ms. Berry’s professional dance career began in ballet at the age of 17 and she has danced with ballet companies in the United States, Switzerland, and Italy. She studied modern dance techniques and jazz dance at the Ailey School in New York, and trained in African Caribbean folkloric and popular dance forms at the Escuela Nacional des Arts (National School of the Arts) in Havana, Cuba
Ms. Berry has worked closely with many of the most celebrated choreographers and dance artists of the 20th century. She has danced the signature choreographies of George Balanchine, Todd Bolender, Choo San Goh, Hans Van Manen, Billy Wilson, John Butler, Lester Horton, Alvin Ailey, Katherine Dunham, Talley Beatty, and Donald McKayle, as well as in works by other renowned choreographers from the world of ballet, modern/contemporary, and jazz dance.
As a former principal dance artist with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Ms. Berry has travelled all around the world working under Founding Artistic Director Alvin Ailey and Artistic Emerita Judith Jamison. April is featured in several dance books and publications including Ailey Spirit: The Journey of an American Dance Company by Robert Tracy, Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance by former The New York Times dance critic Jennifer Dunning, Dancing Revelations by Thomas DeFrantz and The Black Tradition in American Dance by African American historian Richard A. Long, among others. Ms. Berry is featured in several Ailey Company videos and has performed on various television specials including two Kennedy Center Honors programs, represented the Ailey Company on two Ailey season posters, and served as guest artist with several dance companies, including the Teatro La Scala Ballet in Milan, Italy.
Ms. Berry has been actively involved in the field of dance education and community engagement since 1992. She has created award-winning dance scholarship programs and has presented at various dance conferences including the 2013 Dance/USA Conference in Philadelphia, two National Dance Education (NDEO) Conferences, several International Association for Blacks in Dance (IABD) Conferences and presented at the
2016 Colleguim for African American Dance (CADD) Conference at Duke University. She has served as an artist-in-residence, guest lecturer, and adjunct faculty member at some of the most prestigious universities around the United States and has written for Dance/USA’s online journal From the Green Room, The Society of Dance History Scholars publication, Conversations in Dance. Her service includes board member of the Dance Council of North Texas in Dallas, board member of Ohio Dance and the Greater Columbus Arts Council in Columbus, Ohio, and as grants panelist for the North Carolina Arts Council, the Arts and Science Council in Charlotte, NC, among others.
Ms. Berry was Director of Education and Outreach for North Carolina Dance Theatre, (now the Charlotte Ballet) from 2006-2013, and Director of Education and Community Programs for BalletMet Columbus, from 2001-2006. She founded and served as a dance consultant for Arts ‘n Community, a grass roots agency providing specialized services and resources to emerging and mid-size organizations around the U.S., dedicated to the art form dance.
Berry is a certified master instructor in the Katherine Dunham technique, having successfully completed all certification requirements after extensive work with American dance pioneer, Dr. Katherine Dunham. In August 2014 Ms. Berry was appointed the first Artistic Director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, following the retirement of Founding Artistic Director Ann Williams.
Ms. Berry is Director of Community Engagement and Education at Kansas City Ballet, a faculty member in the Kansas City Ballet School, and is the Founding and current Chair of Dance/USA’s nationwide Community Engagement and Education Directors Affinity Group.