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Frances Taylor Davis: Her Story

Frances Taylor Davis: Her Story Project

The Snapshots Foundation is proud to introduce a special video series featuring France Elisabeth Taylor Davis, African American dance pioneer and first wife of Miles Davis. Sponsorship and naming rights to this unique oral history 501c3 project are available This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

At the age of sixteen, Frances Taylor was granted a scholarship to study Dunham Technique in New York with the famed Katherine Dunham.  It wasn’t until two years later in 1948, at the age of 18, she trained with Katherine Dunham and toured extensively with the professional company to Europe and South America. It was on tour in 1948, that Frances was recruited for a special presentation to perform with the esteemed Paris Opera Ballet.  She was the first Black in the history of the company to perform with them. Arriving in Paris she joined the Paris Opera Ballet, another first, as the Paris Press quickly labeled her “the Leslie Caron of the tropics.” Frances took up acting, appearing with Sammy Davis Jr. in Porgy and Bess, Mr. Wonderful, and Shinbone Alley. In 1958, Frances married Miles Davis; the relationship spanned nine years. A Broadway dancer, Frances's career faltered after she left the hit musical “West Side Story” as Miles told her, “A woman should be with her man.” Upon reflection, Frances states of her relationship with Miles: “There’s got to be full treatment of his genius, as well as his shortcomings". Frances Taylor Davis continues to educate and inspire others with her story of survival and renewal. 

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