With an interest in dance from a young age, Darwin Prioleau, EdD, was always inspired watching others dance on stage. She was most inspired by the performances of ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, as well as the then-soloist of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Judith Jamison. She embarked on her academic path at Bennett College, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts. Dr. Prioleau concluded her studies with a Master of Arts at New York University and an EdD from the University of Massachusetts.
Dr. Prioleau began her career in 1967 with the Greensboro Ballet Company in Greensboro, North Carolina. She would later perform in New York as a soloist with the Ed Kersley Dance Company and the Nat Horne Dance Company, and with various other dance companies and off-Broadway productions over the next 12 years as a merit scholar at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. In 1981, Dr. Prioleau ventured into the field of education as assistant professor of dance at Southern Methodist University. This was followed by her position as associate professor and head of the Dance Department at Kent State University, and finally chair of the Department of Dance and dean of the School of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
In addition to her primary roles as a dancer and an educator, Dr. Prioleau also excelled as a guest teacher at the International 39th Bartholin Ballet Seminar in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Dallas Black Dance Theatre in Dallas and at several the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conferences. In addition, she has been commissioned as a choreographer for organizations and companies such as the Dallas Black Dance Theater, the Dallas Theater Center, Dance Cleveland and the Opus II Dance Company. Dr. Prioleau has further found success as a solo performer nationally and internationally including in France, where she performed at the International Center of Dance.
Outside of her practical work in dance, Dr. Prioleau has served as the president of the National Dance Education Organization and on the boards of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans and Visual Studies Workshop, and the editorial board for the National Dance Education Journal. Nationally, Dr. Prioleau is actively involved in arts education advocacy, has published articles in the Journal of Dance Education and Arts Education Policy Review, and has presented papers on leadership of the arts in higher education, jazz dance in the curriculum and diversity issues at various national conferences.
Dr. Prioleau was the awarded grants from the National Education Association Arts Expansion Program in 1980, as well as the Vira I. Heinz Endowment in 1994. She was the recipient of the National Dance Education Organization’s 2006 Outstanding Leadership Award and was acknowledged by the College at Brockport as a 2017 Prometheus Visionary. Civically, she has held such roles as a mentor for the “I Had a Dream Program” in Dallas, a volunteer guest teacher for Urban League in Akron, Ohio, and an advisory board member for the Cleveland School of the Arts. She continues to support organizations such as the ASPCA, the Willow Domestic Violence Center and Garth Fagan Dance. Dr. Prioleau currently maintains affiliation with the National Association of Schools of Dance, the International Association of Blacks in Dance, Americans for the Arts, the National Dance Education Organization and the American Association of Higher Education.
Dr. Prioleau was born to E. L. Prioleau and Marietta Camilla Prioleau in New York. She married Carl Victor Conrad in 1992. Dr. Prioleau enjoys traveling, hiking and listening to jazz music.