Nathaniel (Nat) Horne
Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1929, began dancing when a local ballet teacher asked him to join her classes as a partner for girl students. Because he was prohibited from dancing by his religious father, Horne earned a BS in mathematics at a theological school. He then served in the military, where he was the first Black American to join the Special Services as an official member. It was in the army that Horne was given his first performance opportunities, dancing for soldiers.
Horne moved to New York in 1954 and trained with choreographer and dancer Matt Mattox.
The next year, Horne appeared as a member of the Negro Dance Theatre alongside Charles Moore and Bernard Johnson, among others.
He later appeared in the 1957 production of Jamaica alongside Alvin Ailey and Lena Horne. This is perhaps where Nat Horne made his initial connection with Ailey, as Horne went on to become an original member of the choreographer’s company. In 1958, Horne performed with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in their premiere at the 92nd Street Y.
His choreography career began in 1964 when his former teacher Matt Mattox appointed Horne as his replacement choreographer for Girl Crazy in Germany. Horne later went on to choreograph Cabaret and West Side Story also in Germany.
Horne’s Broadway performance credits include Finian’s Rainbow (1960), Sophie (1963), What Makes Sammy Run? (1964), Golden Boy (1964), Illya Darling (1967), I’m Solomon (1968), Zorba (1968), and Applause (1970).
The dancer opened the Nat Horne Musical Theatre and School, which ran for 11 years. Horne taught here as well as at the Ailey School.