Henry Danton will receive a Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance on February 6, 2020. A native of England, Danton is a world-renowned ballet dancer and teacher. Based in Petal, Mississippi for the past two decades, Danton continues to enrich Mississippi’s dance community through his passion for teaching.
He began his dance career at the age of 21, after being injured during WWII, by performing with international dance companies including the Sadlers Wells Ballet, which later became The Royal Ballet in England.
Early in his career, Danton performed principal roles in some of the world’s most well-known ballets. Henry Danton was an original cast member of Symphonic Variations, choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton, alongside Dame Margot Fonteyn and other ballet giants. Danton took his career to Paris, the center of dance, after the war was over. It was there that Danton was able to study under great Russian dance teachers and travel with a Parisian dance company, travelling to North America for the first time in 1944.
Through teaching and dancing stints in South America, he founded the company that would become the Venezuelan National Ballet in the 1950s. Beginning in the 1960s while living in New York, he taught for eight years at Carnegie Hall’s Ballet Arts, the Martha Graham Dance Company and Juilliard.
“Teaching is my vitamin.” –Henry Danton
He then took his talent south by teaching at Western Kentucky University. In the 1980s, he began teaching part time in Mississippi, eventually moving to the state permanently in 1996. There, he continued teaching students throughout the state and beyond at Belhaven University and the University of Southern Mississippi.
Danton chose the state for the slower-paced lifestyle and typical southern friendliness, but has since inspired a state through his passion for dance and teaching. During his 23-year residency in the state, Danton has taught and shared his extensive knowledge with hundreds of Mississippi students, making a profound impact on the state’s dance community.
Over the years, he continued to travel to international dance centers, such as New York, Paris, Prague, and Beijing, in order to incorporate the latest ballet techniques and developments into his teaching. Danton continues to influence the new generations of dancers and shows no signs of stopping, even though he will soon turn 101 years old.
Join us for the 2020 Governor’s Arts Awards to celebrate Henry Danton’s extraordinary career.
Listen to a recent Mississippi Arts Hour interview with Henry Danton.