When Angelou was 14 years old, she moved with her mother to San Francisco, California. She studied dance and drama on a scholarship to the California Labor School and graduated from George Washington High School. That same year, at the age of 17, she gave birth to a son Guy. She worked to support herself and her children as a cocktail, a waitress, a kitchen, and a dancer. Art Career Begins
In 1951, Angelou moved to New York City with her son and her husband Tosh Angelos so that she could learn African dance with Pearl Primus. She also took a modern dance class. She returned to California and collaborated with dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey to perform at the African American fraternal organization “Al and Rita” throughout San Francisco.
In 1954, Angelou’s marriage ended, but she continued to dance. While performing at San Francisco Purple Onion, Angelou decided to use the name “Maya Angelou” because it was special. She combined the nicknames her brother gave her with a new last name she was derived from her ex-husband’s surname.
In 1959, Angelou got acquainted with the novelist James O. Killens, who encouraged her to hone her skills as a writer. Moving back to New York City, Angelou joined Harlem’s Guild Writer and began publishing her work.
About the time, Angelou landed a role in a Real State Funding Department of George Gershwin’s folk opera “Porgy and Bess” and toured 22 countries in Europe and Africa. She also learned to dance with Martha Graham.
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