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Dance Heritage Coalition

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Barker (Barbara) Papers, ca. 1833-1998

- Biography


Barbara Mackin Barker Warner was born in Seattle in 1938. Her father was the geologist Joseph Hoover Mackin. She danced professionally with Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Utah and as a Bluebell Girl in revues at the Lido in Paris.

She received an M.F.A. degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where she taught in the American Studies program. In 1986 she left Texas to lead the Dance Department at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In 1999 the university named its new dance building for her.

In 1998, when she retired from teaching, Barker began the De Mille Project. The project brought together former dancers from Broadway productions by Agnes De Mille and had them teach their roles to young dancers. These sessions where taped. The National Inititative to Preserve American Dance (, cited the project as a model of documentation.

Barker was an authority on 19th century American ballet and musical entertainments. She was the author of Ballet or Ballyhoo: The American Careers of Maria Bonfanti, Rita Sangalli and Giuseppina Morlacchi. She was also the editor of Bolossy Kiralfy: Creator of Great Musical Spectacles. At the time of her death, Barker was working on a book about De Mille's choreography.

Barbara Barker died January 3, 2002.

Administrative Information Table of Contents Scope and Content Note