Joseph Rickard was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, September 17, 1918. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s to study ballet with Bronislava and Irina Nijinska but his real gifts lay in teaching (especially adults) and choreography. In 1946, he over-heard an African-American woman being turned away from a dance studio where she sought lessons for her daughter; Rickard, from that moment, became determined to start his own dance studio where he could train African-American dancers in classical ballet. In 1947, the First Negro Classical Ballet deputed in Los Angeles to great acclaim and performed together for the next ten years. About 1968, Rickard founded the Negro Classical Ballet after the demise of the FNCB and, at the same time, and for the next 30 years, organized and taught in other integrated local ballet companies, including the Southern California Ballet and the San Gabriel Valley Civic Ballet. On August 24, 1994, Joseph Rickard died of heart failure as the result of several bouts of pneumonia in Glendale, California.
Scope and Content
The papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, documents, and printed material related to the FNCB, NCB and local ballet companies; the papers also include sheet music and original music scores, ballet production files and photographs for the FNCB and NCB. The papers are especially strong as a visual record with a large number of photographs, publicity material, costume sketches, and printed posters.
Organized in the following series: Correspondence (Box 1); Manuscripts and Documents (Box 2); First Negro Classical Ballet (FNCB) and Negro Classic Ballet (NCB) Manuscript and Printed Material (Box 3); FNCB and NCB Ballet Scores and Sheet Music (Boxes 4-6); FNCB and NCB Photographs (Box 7); NCB Scrapbook and Oversize FNCB and NCB Printed Material (Box 8); San Gabriel Valley Civic Ballet and Southern California Ballet Companies Manuscript and Printed Material (Box 9); Ballet Production Files (Boxes 10-14); Articles and Clippings about Ballet (Box 15); Southern California Ballet, San Gabriel Valley Civic Ballet and Misc. Ballet Photographs (Boxes 16-18); arranged alphabetically and chronologically.