Marcea T. Daiter: World Traveler

P1020831Marcea T. Daiter is certainly a well-traveled dancer. Marcea’s long career intersects with many key figures and organizations of Chicago’s dance scene. In the early years, while she was based in Chicago, she danced with the Darlene Blackburn Dance Troupe and performed with the Free Street Theater. Working with Darlene was a profound learning experience for Marcea. One show in particular stands out in her memories. Distracted by the cold of the theater, Marcea left on a pair of fuzzy slippers during a Dance Troupe performance, while otherwise costumed in appropriate traditional African attire. After leaving the stage, Darlene took Marcea to task, reminding her of the importance of staying in the moment during performance and attending to every detail.


Alyo Tolbert and Marcea Daiter performing with Darlene Blackburn Dance Troupe


During her time with the Darlene Blackburn Dance Troupe (and on many other occasions), Marcea traveled to Africa. She took advantage of these opportunities to study many forms of African dance and, in 1977, got the chance to perform with Fela Kuti at his Afro-Shrine for the International Arts Festival. These adventures were the fulfillment of a childhood dream of Marcea’s, who used a globe from her father to identify every place she wanted to someday visit.

In later years, Marcea became a certified Dunham technique instructor, and, like Katherine Dunham, traveled to the Caribbean to study local dances. She took some of the last available photographs of Katherine Dunham’s Haitian residence, which was heavily damaged in the 2010 earthquake. Following in the footsteps of a dance idol like Dunham appeals to Marcea because it brings things full-circle, connecting her back to a long history of dancers, a history which she carries forward into the future through her current work as a teacher.

-Hélène Lupa

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