Choreographer & Dance School Founder
Marie Brooks has touched the lives of thousands of children, introducing them to their heritage while teaching them the artistry of dance and the necessity of controlling their own futures. Born in Guadeloupe and raised and educated in Trinidad, she traveled extensively as a youth, and has passed this eye-opening practice on to her youngsters. Brooks gladly came to the United States as a young lady after having received a scholarship by invitation from legendary dance innovator Katherine Dunham.
After studying ballet, modern, and tap along with the famed Dunham technique at the Dunham School of Dance, she taught dance for several decades in New York City public schools. From 1975- 1983 she worked with adolescents at the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She taught briefly at the Harlem School of the Arts, and then founded the Restoration Dance Theatre School at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp. in Brooklyn, where she worked her magic for 20 years.
Forty years ago, she and her former husband, Dr. Harold Brooks, bought a home in Harlem and raised four children. “When you buy a house and live in that place,” she comments, “you become a part of that place, and you call that place not a house, but a home.” In the early 70s, she formed the Marie Brooks Pan-Caribbean Dance Theatre, now based at the Wadleigh High School in Harlem. She began it with her own children, all of whom have inherited their mother’s love of the arts. Her daughter, Francois, “runs the Harlem Dance Clinic, the only performing arts program in a hospital,” she notes.
Brooks has escorted her students all over the world to learn the history and cultural mileu of their dances. Her students have traveled to Africa (Ghana and South Africa), the Caribbean, and the Gullah Islands. They’ve performed at the Atlanta Olympics, and will soon travel to China to witness business teamwork. Such life-changing experiences prepare her students to become citizens of the world and grounded, whole individuals. Brooks says Harlem has been “my roots for over 50 years, my life experience, and university without walls, where I’ve experienced the diverse similarities and differences of my people within my community.”