Debora Chase-Hicks, Philadanco and Alvin Ailey Pioneer, Dies at 63

May 23, 2021

A pioneer with both Philadanco and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Debora Chase-Hicks died on May 6 at age 63 following a brief but serious illness.

Chase-Hicks was a kind, gentle soul who loved life and the people in it. The gift of her artistry touched the lives of all those with whom she came in contact. Full of wisdom, she didn’t mind sharing it with everyone. She lived by the philosophy, “Nothing to prove. Everything to share.”

Chase-Hicks was born December 23, 1957 in Aschaffenburg, Germany to parents Betty and Thomas Chase, Sr. Along with her brother Thomas D. Chase, Jr., the family lived in Denver, Colorado, and later moved to Philadelphia. At the age of 10, Chase-Hicks enrolled in the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, the official academy of Philadanco.

She took her dance training very seriously and in 1974 was accepted into Philadanco, where she was a soloist until 1981. She then joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where she remained for 11 years.

Chase-Hicks was the recipient of many awards, including from The International Congress of Black Women, The Outstanding Young Americans Award and was named a “dancer to watch” in Dance Magazine.

In 1990 she married the love of her life, Carmen Steve Hicks.

After retiring from Ailey, she returned to Philadanco, where she became the rehearsal director, as well as a master teacher and coach. A sought-after dancer teacher, she was also on the staff of New Freedom Theatre, the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts and many other dance schools in the area.

Chase-Hicks was instrumental in resetting Witness for the Royal Danish Ballet and the reconstruction of Ulysses Dove’s Bad Blood on Philadanco. Bad Blood has since been preserved by the Dance Notation Bureau for archival purposes.

Chase-Hicks leaves to cherish her memory, her devoted and loving husband, Carmen Steve Hicks, brother Thomas D.Chase, Jr., his wife Michelle, her aunts Norma Gordon and Sarah Chester, loving nieces Krista, Chase and Tiffany Brown, nephew Demetrious Brown, God Son Cameron Michael Coleman, mentor Sarah Conway, special family aunt Joan Myers Brown, Kim Bears-Bailey, Deborah Manning St. Charles, Dawn Tribett, Gwen Coleman and a host of cousins, extended family and friends. Philadanco and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater are feeling the loss of their fellow artist, dancer and friend.