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It was 1932 when young Syvilla Fort enrolled at Cornish College in Seattle, Washington. In our November 2022 editorial, we wrote about her life and the start of a new Cornish scholarship named in her honor. To briefly reiterate, Syvilla was the first person of color (Black) to enroll at Cornish, after having been denied entry to several Seattle ballet programs. Despite the multiple denials, Fort’s training at Cornish led to her becoming the innovator of Afro-modern dance.

Black and white photo of a Black woman dancing
Syvilla Fort, 1940. Photo by Ernst Kassowitz, courtesy Cornish College of the Arts

Noting that her influence remains constant in the Cornish Music and Dance Departments, three recipients of the Syvilla Fort Scholarship were recently announced. Citing the scholarship’s intention to support BIPOC students as a means for nurturing the next generation of artists and creatives, new media artist Dahyun Kim, animator and illustrator Ava Moton, and violinist and composer Salma Zenia received the latest scholarship offerings. Each of these artists, although practicing outside of the dance genre, has the potential to influence the future of dance as the art form becomes more and more multi-disciplinary and collaborative.


The Syvilla Fort Scholarship was initiated with a significant boost from The Black Future CoOp Fund. To keep the scholarship going and to support Cornish’s commitment to diversity and equity, ongoing funding is necessary. We hope to see many more scholarships delivered to students of color over the years to come and keep the history and legacy of Syvilla Fort in the public view. Please visit Cornish's website to learn more and find ways to help them reach their fundraising goal.


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