Passionate and hardworking, Diana “Diane” L. Dunbar has worn many hats over the course of her career. She started her teaching career when she taught elementary education for half a year with her father in 1964 after the Troy, Ala., public schools were closed when Kennedy died in the fall of 1963. In 1979, she was a student teacher and then a substitute teacher in English for a school in Charleston, S.C. For more than a decade after that, she served New York City Public Schools—P.S. 106 first, then P.S. 94, and then P.S. 401 Hospital Schools. Ms. Dunbar’s other academic engagements included videoconferencing consultant with Eric Miller between the University of Pennsylvania and India, teacher and video consultant for Youth Can, and volunteer dance teacher assistant with Indrani Rahman at New York University from 1990 to 1991. She also taught ESL to South Korean students from 1990 to 1991.
Although Ms. Dunbar stepped down from teaching in 2009, she remains professionally active in other ways. She has been a dancer with Classical East Indian Dances for many years, as well as an independent dancer and choreographer specializing in a wide variety of styles. Some of these include modern dance, world folk dance, ballroom dance, jazz, hip-hop, tap, Caribbean dance, Afro-Haitian dance, creative dance, and contemporary dance. Over the years, Ms. Dunbar has showcased her talents in shows like the musicals “Shakespeare and Mr. Porter” and “Bound to Rise” at the Medicine Show Theatre, and the Classical East Indian dances exhibition at La Mama Art Galleria. She was also the author, storyteller, and dancer of “Lavinia Williams: The Dancer,” an actress in “Hernando DeSoto Conquistador of Spain,” and an actress in Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” at the College of Charleston. Ms. Dunbar immortalized these performances and many others through Eric and Company Video, of which she was the co-President from 1983 to 2006. Many Eric and Company Video recordings are now part of the collections at the New York City Library for the Performing Arts and the Schomberg Library.
To prepare for her endeavors, Ms. Dunbar earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from the College of Charleston and a Master of Arts in Creative Arts from New York University. She also took teacher certification courses in Charleston, S.C., and New York, N.Y. Ms. Dunbar gained permanent certification in special education for K-12 for the New York City Board of Education and New York State. She studied Classical East Indian dance with Indrani Rahman, Vija Rahman, Vija Vetra, Arundhati, and Uttara Coorlawal in New York, modern dance, choreography, and pre-classic dance with Mary Anthony, Anna Sokolow, and Daniel Maloney, and dance and dance history with Lavinia Williams at New York University. Furthermore, she garnered hands-on professional experience as a legislative intern on Capitol Hill in the summer of 1974.
Ms. Dunbar’s success has not gone unnoticed. She was notably named to the Wall of Tolerance by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama in 2003 and was the recipient of the Teacher Award from the Children’s Creative Writing Fund in 1997. She was awarded the Sangam Award from Classical East Indian Dance in 1990. That same year, she was named an outstanding dancer/performer in the Yancey Dance Theatre by The New York Times.
When Ms. Dunbar isn’t working, she enjoys writing and volunteering for environmental activist groups, animal rescues, and other important causes. She was one of the founding sponsors of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in 2006, a member of the leadership council of the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2003, and a volunteer for Save and Preserve Community Gardens and Parks for many years.