Cleo Parker Robinson among those honored at White House with National Medal of the Arts
Her group The International Association of Blacks in Dance shared the honor with Bruce Springsteen, Gladys Knight, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and others.
Denver dance pioneer Cleo Parker Robinson was part of a group awarded a National Medal of the Arts at the White House this week. Parker Robinson and her group The International Association of Blacks in Dance received the award from President Biden.
Cleo Parker Robinson has become an iconic figure in Colorado arts. She founded The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and serves as its executive creative director. In 1989, she was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, and in 1999, President Clinton appointed her to serve on the National Council on the Arts. The Kennedy Center’s “Masters of African American Choreographers” series awarded her the Center’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, in 2005.
The IABD traces its roots back to 1988 before it formalized into an association in 1990.
Today, The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) preserves and promotes dance by people of African ancestry or origin, and works to increase opportunities for those artists.
Following the White House ceremony and celebrations, Parker Robinson said she was honored to be among those recognized.
“Oh, it was just thrilling. I got really teary-eyed -I think to stop and really realize that, the nation would see that dance is important and that it is to be recognized. And that what we had been doing with the International Association of Blacks in Dance had a really significant impact on, not only in our country, but across all borders,” she said. “It’s global.”
Parker Robinson said she felt proud — both to be there and to help change things in America.
“And even though we think about all the things that we have not accomplished yet, and maybe some of the trauma from our history … we need some change,” Parker Robinson said. “We need it. Our America has changed from our first beginnings. And I think that it was wonderful to see and feel the welcoming of the change as if it’s not intimidating.”
Cleo Parker Robinson and the four other IABD co-founders were honored alongside Bruce Springsteen, Gladys Knight, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and others.