Dance Theatre of Harlem is known for its use of classical ballet to create new and innovative experiences. The founder, Arthur Mitchell, was the first African American dancer to become a principal with the New York City Ballet. He created a dance school and professional company to bring the arts to a challenged community, providing opportunities to access the arts and providing a space where new voices could be heard.
Now, Virginia Johnson, the current artistic director and co-founder of the original company continues the tradition of maintaining an exciting and dynamic company that brings a mix of classical and contemporary dance to wide audiences. Coming into this show, be ready for a whirlwind of world-class dancing, stunning athleticism, and an incredible mix of repertoire that stretches the mind and boundaries of “traditional” ballet.
The show opens with a classic and beloved piece choreographed by the world-renowned Alvin Ailey entitled The Lark Ascending. This piece is followed by the reflective and moving In the Mirror of Her Mind, choreographed by Christopher Huggins. This piece was created to benefit Dancers Responding to AIDS and portrays a woman looking back on her life, through the good and the bad.
Next up is Agon, choreographed by George Balanchine with music by Igor Stravinsky. This piece leans more towards neoclassical ballet and contemporary, showcasing the full range of these incredible dancers on stage. Finally, the show closes with Return, choreographed by Robert Garland. This piece is set to music from Aretha Franklin and James Brown and was originally created to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary. It combines classical ballet with neoclassical and a little bit of funk.
So we have everything from classical ballet to funk, and Aretha Franklin to Stravinsky. It will be a diverse performance to say the least. As a dancer, being able to switch styles so quickly and effectively is a challenge, but a blast. It is especially fun to watch such classic, iconic dance styles like ballet be explored and stretched into something wonderfully familiar, but still thrillingly fresh.
Don’t miss this exciting and dynamic program on Tuesday, February 17 at 7:30 on our very own Carlson Family Stage and experience it for yourself! And, how better to celebrate Black History Month than with this company that showcases black artists making huge strides in the classical dance world.
Also don’t forget to check out our related events:
There will be a film screening of Dance Theatre of Harlem: Fall River Legend on February 10 at 6:30 pm in the Best Buy Theater, which is a great way to learn more about the company and other works they’ve performed.
Also join us for the Performance Preview starting at 6:15 pm the night of the show in the Best Buy Theater, where artistic director of TU Dance in St. Paul, Toni Pierce-Sands, will moderate a conversation with Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Artistic Director Virginia Johnson.
I look forward to seeing you there!