Fun Facts About Dance Theatre of Harlem

January 6, 2022
Dance Theatre of Harlem's Alexandra Hutchinson and Derek Brockington
Karel Shook and Arthur Mitchell

Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) was founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook at the height of the civil rights movement, shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Arthur Mitchell jumps with knees bent, toes touching and arms out to the sides.

After receiving scholarships to New York’s High School of Performing Arts and the School of American Ballet, Arthur Mitchell made history in 1955 as the first black principal dancer at New York City Ballet where he was the famed protégé of George Balanchine. Mitchell’s barrier-busting legacy and leadership are chronicled in

Children in ballet class standing in first position with their hands on their hips.

As part of DTH’s 50th anniversary, the company created a captivating video tribute to Mitchell hailed as “an excellent film” by The New York Times.

2 dancers in white unitards perform 'Passage'

The Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary, Dancing On the Shoulders of Giants, follows the journey of works including Passage (on the Northrop program) that commemorate the arrival of the first Africans to English North America.

Balamouk, which will be performed at Northrop, means “house of the insane” in Romanian. This piece features upbeat music and vibrant costumes along with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “constructed chaos” dance style.

Virginia Johnson

Artistic Director, Virginia Johnson, was a founding member of DTH and one of its principal ballerinas in a career that spanned nearly 30 years. One of the great ballerinas of her generation, she was renowned for her performances in Creole Giselle, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Fall River Legend.

Dance Theatre of Harlem on stage in orange costumes

The Northrop Centennial Commission, Higher Ground, features music by Stevie Wonder and was choreographed by DTH’s first Resident Choreographer, Robert Garland.

A full class of kids of varying ages learning to dance

DTH’s Dancing Through Barriers® arts education and outreach programs continue the longstanding tradition of inclusion, tolerance, equity, and diversity that Mitchell began in the early days when he taught in a converted garage with its door open to those passing by.

Welcome back! Dance Theatre of Harlem first came to Northrop over 40 years ago in 1981. Jan 28 will mark their seventh appearance on our stage.