Marion Cuyjet

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Marion Cuyjet
Marion Durham Cuyjet.jpg
Marion Durham Cuyjet

July 29, 1920
DiedOctober 22, 1996(1996-10-22) (aged 76)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Marion Cuyjet (/sˈʒ/; July 29, 1920 – October 22, 1996) was a pioneer in dance education in Black Philadelphia.


Cuyjet's formal dance training began in the 1930s with Essie Marie Dorsey, who was responsible for initiating formal classical ballet training to Black Philadelphia. Prior to the Civil Rights Movement, African American students of dance were not allowed to join classical ballet classes in Philadelphia because of the color of their skin. Some students studied ballet through private lessons and only a handful of studios, mostly in New York City, would admit black students to special, all black classes. Cuyjet, however, with her fair-skinned complexion was able to enroll at the Philadelphia Ballet Company, which did not admit black students at that time, and studied there until her identity was revealed after a performance.[1] While at the Dorsey school Cuyjet became close with another student, Sydney Gibson King, who shared the desire to sustain and develop the groundwork laid by Dorsey.

Cuyjet, with King, opened the Sydney-Marion School of Dance in 1946 which led to the forming of their own schools shortly after. The Judimar School of Dance opened in 1948, named after her and her daughter Judy (born 1940), in Philadelphia's city center. Some of Judimar's former students include Judith Jamison, Arthur Hall, Joan Myers Brown, John Jones, Elmer Ball, Donna Lowe Warren, Delores Browne Abelson, Tamara Guillebeaux, and China White.

Cuyjet died on October 22, 1996, at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.


  1. ^ White-Dixon, "Marion Cuyjet," 24.