Asadata Dafora photograph collection

Collection Data

The Asadata Dafora Photograph Collection depicts some aspects of his personal life and his professional career as dancer/choreographer, from the 1910s to the early 1960s.The collection consists of individual and group portraits and candid shots of Dafora, family, friends, and professional colleagues; individual and group portraits of Dafora and his dance company that were probably used for publicity purposes; and photographic postcards depicting views from Sierra Leone and Liberia. The collection is limited in views of his early life.The collection includes a group of studio portraits and candid shots that are probably of Dafora's family and friends in England (n.d.); a portrait of Dafora's wife, Rosalia Ernestina Horton, with a young child (n.d.); a series of individual and group studio portraits of Dafora and his dance troupe, depicting scenes from his work "Kykunkor," featuring Abdul Assen, Musu Esammi, and other unidentified dancers (1934); group portraits of Rosalia with an African delegation at New York International Airport (now called John F. Kennedy International) (ca. 1950s); and individual and group portraits of Dafora and his Shogola Oloba Group on stage, including dancer Esther Rolle (1960).Also included are portraits of dancer Joseph Layode, entertainer Rita Kingsley, sculptor Estella Wright, and the Magnets Steel Band with Lord Nelson. A series of photographic postcards depicts a pair of Liberian acrobatic dancers; the Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone; and a group of musicians and another pair of acrobat dancers in Sierra Leone (1946).
Dafora, Asadata, 1890-1965 (Creator)
Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964 (Photographer)
Goldberg, Maurice (Photographer)
Layne, Cecil (Photographer)
Kriegsmann, James J (Photographer)
Aviation News Pictures (New York, N.Y.) (Photographer)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1912 - 1960
Library locations
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division
Shelf locator: Sc Photo Asadata Dafora Collection
Dafora, Asadata, 1890-1965
Horton, Rosalia
Assen, Abdul
Rolle, Esther
Esammi, Musu
Layode, Joseph
Wright, Estelle V, 1905-
Asadata Dafora Dancers
Shogola Oloba Group
Magnets Steel Band
African American dancers
Africans -- Dance -- 1930-1969
African Americans in the performing arts
Choreographers -- New York (State) -- New York
Dance, Black
Dancers -- New York (State) -- New York
Dance companies -- New York (State) -- New York
Africans -- New York (State) -- New York
Dancers -- Sierra Leone
Dancers -- Liberia
Musicians -- Sierra Leone
Arrivals & departures -- Africans -- New York (State) -- New York
Publicity photographs
Photographic postcards
Content: Collection contains work by Carl Van Vechten, Maurice Goldberg, Cecil Layne, James J. Kriegsmann, and Aviation News Pictures, among others.
Biographical/historical: Asadata Dafora Horton, dancer and choreographer, was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 1890. He attended Wesleyan High School in Freetown and is believed to have studied opera in Italy and dance in Germany between 1910-1912. Arriving in New York to pursue a operatic career in 1929, Dafora would eventually form the African dance troupe, Shogola Oloba. The troupe's first performance was of his dance opera "Zoonga" in 1933, followed by "Kykunkor" (1934). Later renamed the African Dance Troupe of the Federal Theatre Project in 1935, the troupe participated in Orson Wells' production of "Macbeth" (1936).
Biographical/historical: Over the next two decades Dafora produced a repertoire of work, including "Zunguru" (1938), "Festival at Battalakor" (1945), "The Valley Without Echo" (1955) and "Afra Ghan Jazz" (1959). In 1960, Dafora passed the directorship of the troupe to troupe member Esther Rolle and returned to Sierra Leone to serve with the ministry of culture. However, failing health forced him back to New York where he died in 1965.
Citation/reference: Forms part of the Asadata Dafora Papers, 1933-1963.
Physical Description
Gelatin silver prints
Extent: 56 items (.3 lin. ft., 1 box)
Extent: 21 photographic prints :silver gelatin, b&w ;26 x 21 cm. and smaller.
Extent: 12 photographic prints :silver gelatin, b&w ;21 x 26 cm. and smaller.
Extent: 9 photographic prints :silver gelatin, b&w ;18 x 13 cm. and smaller.
Extent: 5 photographic prints :silver gelatin, b&w ;28 x 36 cm. and smaller.
Extent: 9 photographic postcards :silver gelatin, b&w ;14 x 9 cm. and smaller.
Some photographs have either photographer's or photography studio's handstamp on verso; some items have photographer's or photography studio's name either blind stamped, printed or inscribed on recto. Some photographs have handwritten notations on verso; some items bear either handwritten or printed captions on verso; two photographs bear typewritten captions; some portraits bear inscriptions; some items are duplicates.
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b14932328
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 935aa820-58f4-0135-97c9-3f8ef09c43b6
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