He moved to Philadelphia in 1951, studying dance over the years with John Hines, Marion Cuyjet, Melvina Taze, Syvilla Fort, Joseph Nash, Leigh Parham, Walter Nicks, John Kow Mensah Eshun, F. Saka Acquaye, Obediah Craig, Lavinia Williams, and Percival Borde. He was a principal dancer with the seminal West African Cultural Society in the early 1950s, a company directed by Mr. Acquaye which included Ione Nash, Bobby Crowder, and George Williams, among others who have had a profound influence on the appreciation of West African culture in America.
In 1958, he founded and for thirty years directed the Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance Ensemble, known for adapting traditional African dances for the American stage and combining them with Afro-Caribbean and modern dances. He choreographed and performed the title role in the company’s signature dance Obatala. Major productions choreographed by Mr. Hall include African Sketches, the ultra-modern Bechlch for the Theatre of the Living Arts (1967), the nationally broadcast Repertoire Workshop: MOJUBA!, Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite, the television show Africa’s Children, the full-length ballet Orpheus, A City Called Heaven, Aida, Fat Tuesday and all that Jazz, Eulogy for John Coltrane, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Oba Koso, Tickle the Rain, Ahimsa: nonviolence, Urhobo Water Spirit Festival, Paul Robeson: All American, Harambee, Ile Ife Philadelphia Maine, The Rhythm of Life, African Harvest for the World, and Accent Ghana.
Arthur Hall was the director of the Model Cities Cultural Arts Program in Philadelphia. He was the founder and director of the Ile Ife Cultural Center on Germantown Avenue, where classes in the performing and fine arts continue to this day. He was the founder and director of the Ile Ife Museum of African Art, also in North Philadelphia. He founded the People to People Dance Company in Camden, Maine, and Ile Ife Films and the Arthur Hall Collection in Searsport, Maine.
Mr. Hall has been on the faculty of the Sidney King School of Dance, Philadelphia Community College, Young Audience of Eastern Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, the Vermont Governor's Institute for the Arts, Bates Dance Festival, and the American Dance Festival. From its inception in 1971, he was a panel member and teacher for the Movement Education Program of the National Endowment for the Arts. For over thirty years he maintained an active schedule of master classes and as an artist-in-residence in schools and institutions across the country and abroad, most notably the Friends Schools of Philadelphia, the Arizona school system, and the schools of New England, the last residency being just a few weeks before his death. He has performed and taught in association with exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others, and conducted master classes for teachers and for the national dance companies of Ghana, Zaire, and Mozambique, as well as for Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago and dancers in Haiti, Brazil, Kenya, and South Korea.
Arthur Hall has received numerous awards and special recognition as an artist and as a teacher from the Cities of Philadelphia, Memphis, New Orleans, and Portsmouth, NH. He received the first Hazlett Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Governor of Pennsylvania and special recognition for his contributions to education from the Governor of New Hampshire. Perhaps more significantly, he has received thousands upon thousands of individual awards and special recognition from school administrators, teachers, dancers, therapists, artists, parents, and little children, from sculptures to citations to T-shirts to crayon drawings inscribed "I love you, Arthur"
Funeral services were private. Memorial services and performances are being planned in Philadelphia and in Camden, Maine. Eulogies and personal remembrances can be posted and viewed on Arthur Hall’s website at www.columbia.edu/~jw157/ileife. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Arthur Hall Education Fund, c/o Nancy Salmon, Maine Arts Commission, 25 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333.
10 August 2000