top of page


"Their history opened it up...

knowledge is power."

Geraldine Williams grew up on the South Side of Chicago and studied tap dance with Sadie Bruce. As an adult, she took class with Darlene Blackburn but concentrated primarily on the technique of Katherine Dunham. Her main teachers were former Dunham company members Lucille Ellis and Tommy Gomez and Williams became a certified Dunham instructor herself. Known to her students as “Mama Geri,” Williams focused on educating children both in dance studios as a part of eta Creative Arts Foundation and through her job as a special education teacher in the Chicago Public Schools.

August 2, 2018: Geraldine Williams’s interview focuses on her involvement as a student and teacher of the Katherine Dunham technique. She describes a typical class, tells stories about Dunham and her other teachers – including Lucille Ellis and Tommy Gomez – and reflects on events and conferences she attended as part of her training.

Black woman with dreadlocks and hoop earrings

"When we were at one of the parties that Miss Dunham gave for us, Talley Beatty did a sheet dance."

bottom of page