Independent Historian

Nelson D. Neal, Ed.D. is a retired Professor of Dance. He has 42 publications and 78 presentations nationally and internationally. He was one of 25 faculty nationwide to be awarded a National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship to study the Black Tradition in American Modern Dance in 1991.

Dr. Neal began his dance career at the State University of New York at Cortland, where he earned his B.S.E. degree in physical education. He continued his dance training at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, earning his M.S. degree in Dance – Applied and Technical. He earned his Ed.D. degree at the University of Virginia, in Motor Learning and Control, a specialized area of Kinesiology.

His teaching career started in 1969 at a public school in New Mexico and continued at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Mississippi, Longwood University, Lane College, and Marywood University until May 2014. He was a USIA exchange professor at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He gave dance workshops to more than 23,000 public school students in the U.S., Canada, Finland, France, and Honduras.

He was President of the National Dance Association, the Virginia Alliance for Arts Education, and the Board of Directors of Sarasota Contemporary Dance Company. He is the authority on the life and career of Hemsley Winfield and his performing company, The New Negro Art Theatre Dance Group.

Hemsley Winfield (1907-1934)

Osborne Hemsley Winfield is considered the first African American modern dancer a pioneer of “Negro concert dancing.” Founder of the New Negro Art Theatre Dance Group, Winfield was a contemporary of Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman and active during the Harlem Renaissance. Born … Read MoreHemsley Winfield (1907-1934)