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commUNITY spotlight: Yvonne James-Brown honored with scholarship in her memory

Yvonne James-Brown left an impression on her dance students. She was one of the founding members of the program at the Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Dancer, educator, activist, community builder and friend.

Those are just some of the words the family of Yvonne James-Brown wrote about the woman who danced her way through the halls of the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts and into the minds of students she taught.

She passed away on April 5, 2022. Her background will forever be celebrated. 

The Black Dance Workshop was a professional dance touring company that she was a member of and the group established the School of Movement, Drama and Music in Buffalo.

James-Brown helped found the dance program at Performing Arts and instructed many students during her long career with the Buffalo Public Schools.

Students called her way of teaching "remarkable" and described her as "a fierce protector of her babies." She choreographed modern and African-Caribbean dance numbers and ballets.

Credit: Brown family

She was a  Teacher of the Year nominee and recognized by some of the best dance choreographers in the world.

While teaching in Buffalo, she started artistic programs that included the Western New York/Jamaica Cultural Exchange Project, for dance students, teachers and performing artists.

The Yvonne James-Brown Scholarship Award for Academics, Resilience, Talent and Spirit (A.R.T.S.). has been established by her family.

The Yvonne James-Brown A.R.T.S. Scholarship Award will be awarded to one student in the graduating class at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts in Buffalo who best embodies the values of intentionality, awareness and purpose, with which Yvonne lived her life.

After her teaching career, Yvonne James-Brown was a voice for a better neighborhood with the Minnesota Avenue block club.

Yvonne leaves behind a husband, children, grandchildren, and hundreds of students.

During a school anniversary performance, she said "my 30 years as a faculty member, it was an honor and a joy. What better way to bring people together to embrace diversity to embrace change to embrace creativity."

She was 72 years old.

Credit: Brown family

   

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