Clyde Wilder

Interested in giving workshops: Yes
Interested in art coordination: Yes
Photographer: Nuppu Linnavuori

Clyde Wilder is a well-established dancer, choreographer and dance historian specialized in traditional African and African-American dance. He was born in Charleston, South-Carolina, U.S.A., spent most of his adult life in Harlem, New York, and he has toured and taught dance work shops all over the U.S.A as well as internationally. Currently he teaches and performs different forms of traditional jazz dances (such as swing and blues) and African dances in New York and Helsinki. Wilder’s expertise in traditional jazz dance derives from his long and close collaboration with several originators of this dance and musical tradition. He has performed and worked e.g. with Mama Lou Parks and Frankie Manning, and is a member of the Norma Miller Jazz Dancers. He toured as a dancer with Red Foxx and Stevie Wonder. In addition, he has worked and toured with several masters of tap dance such as the Copasetics, Cookie Cook and Buster Brown. In his shows and performances, Wilder shows the continuity between African-American and traditional African dancing. He has studied traditional African dances in West-Africa and worked with the International African-American Ballet for 25 years, performing dances from the old Mali empire. He started his career as a dancer in Chuck Davis’ dance company. In 1977, he travelled to Lagos, Nigeria for Festac, World’s Black and African Festival of Arts, which began his research in dance history. He toured with Dance Black America, which also became a PBS film and performed at the Dance Africa festival 1978-1995 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Wilder has worked with different doctors and medical specialists to use the dance as a therapeutic tool to break through social barriers and to promote balance and well-being. He has taught dance work-shops in hospitals, prisons, detention centers and senior citizens’ centers. He is registered as an arts in education artist and teaches residencies in schools through Arts Horizon. He also works in close collaboration with different museums, libraries and theaters. Wilder is the artistic director of Message from our Ancestors, a company which performs masquerades such as the stilt dancing, Egunnuko, Egun Egun and Chiwara, as well as of Harlem Swingers who perform lindy hop, tap, blues and other forms of African-American dance. Currently Wilder is working with the Helsinki Traditional Jazz Dance Company, promotes African-American dance culture and shares his expertise in its history in Finland. Together with his dance partner Malin Grahn, he teaches and performs e.g. lindy hop and blues, and they also give lectures in the history of jazz. They are performing and developing the show Jazz History through Times which explores the development of jazz through the years from Africa through the plantations to juke joints and ballrooms.

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