Starting out in dance classes when she was just 3 years old, Carolyn Vance-DeVour attended Brooklyn College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in modern dance and secondary education. She also spent time at the Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center, where she studied under such notable figures as Michael Peters, the choreographer for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” music video; Ben Vereen, who appeared in such Broadway productions as “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Pippin”; Arthur Mitchell, the first African-American dancer with the New York City Ballet; and Bernice Johnson, for whom the center was named. After touring as a dancer for a time, she began her work in education, joining the New York City Department of Education and serving as a dance teacher for Erasmus Hall High School and Andrew Jackson High School. She later earned a Master of Arts in special education from Adelphi University and, in 1986, served as dean of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School.
For the past 30 years, Ms. Vance-DeVore has been active as the founder and artistic director of the DeVore Dance Center, where she places emphasis on the performance arts, academics and character development. Greatly skilled in organization and discipline, she provides mentoring and guidance to young dancers, and teaches a variety of dance styles, including tap, ballet, jazz, modern, African, hip hop and contemporary. Concurrently, she has held the role of director of the nonprofit organization Rise Up: Empowerment Through the Arts, which strives to educate, inspire and empower young people through the arts. She attributes much of her success to hard work and compassion, as well as perseverance and the support she has received from her community.
For excellence in her career, Ms. Vance-DeVore has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades over the years. In 2001, she was notably presented with the Congressional Award, the highest honor awarded by the United States Congress. She was later recognized with the Queens Borough President’s Special Recognition Award in 2008. Above these accolades however, she considers the highlight of her career to be seeing her students excel. She has had several students go on to open their own studios, and in 2019, she had two students nominated for the Grammy’s. Camille A. Brown was nominated for “Choir Boy” and Edgar Gardino won a Grammy for his work as associate choreographer for “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”
Born in St. Albans, New York, to Robert and Doris Patterson, Ms. Vance-DeVore is incredibly grateful to her mother, who imparted on her the wisdom “don’t cry over spilled milk” and encouraged her to always keep going. Spending many years with her late husband, Van DeVore, they were together the proud parents of two children.,Rashaad and Kahlil. Today, Ms. Vance-DeVore has found happiness with her partner Eli McCalpine. Her family also includes her brother, Gregg Howard Vance, and her sister, Emily Theresa Scott.
In her free time, Ms. Vance-DeVore enjoys relaxing in the sun when she isn’t dancing. Looking toward the future, she hopes to be able to pass on her legacy with the DeVore Dance Center, but she never wants to stop mentoring. She hopes to keep the studio running even once she has retired, and she is currently working on getting the studio open again via Zoom classes. She has also set up Zoom workshops for the kids in Rise Up: Empowerment Through the Arts, and organized a Black Lives Matter mural dedication recently as well. Ms. Vance-DeVore would advise young and aspiring professionals to focus on honesty, integrity and self-respect, and to always strive to nurture and support the young upcoming generations.