From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Dance, Robert Lawrence "Dencio"

(born: November 10, 1942  -  died: January 2, 2011) 

Robert L. Dance was born in Lexington, KY, the son of Anna C. Rice and Sherman Dance.

In 1968, Robert Dance became the first African American and the last of four American students to graduate from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), located in Baguio City in the Philippines.

After his graduation, Dance was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant Armor Officer in the U.S. Army. He attended PMA after a two-year Army enlistment. He had joined the Army in 1962; after two years of service he was accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point but opted to go to the Philippine Military Academy as an exchange student.

The PMA was originally the Academia Militar founded in October of 1898, but  the Academia Militar was closed in January 1899 during the American-Philippine War. In 1905, the American colonial officers' school was opened in the Wall City of Intramuros in Manila; the school was later moved to Baguio City at Camp Henry T. Allen, then moved again to Teacher's Camp. The school went through several name changes before it became the Philippine Military Academy in 1936.

The school was closed by the Japanese during World War II, then reopened in 1947 after the Philippines become independent via the Treaty of Manila.

In 1964, Dance arrived at the PMA, where students earned undergraduate degrees that focused on engineering. He earned his bachelors' degree as well as two master's degrees while in the military.

After his retirement, Dance served in the Foreign Service as a member of the U.S. Information Agency, beginning in 1986. In 2007, he was the Deputy Director of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs.

Robert L. Dance died January 2, 2011 in Springfield, VA.

For more information and a photograph of Robert L. Dance, see "Saluting African-American History Month: Robert Dance" at the U.S. Department of State Archive website; "West Point spit and polish Philippine style," Ebony, April 1968, pp. 74-76, 78, & 80; and the Philippine Military Academy history page.

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NKAA Source: Ebony (periodical)

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“Dance, Robert Lawrence "Dencio",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 18, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-05-19 17:52:29