Dance Theatre of Harlem and Arthur Mitchell's legacy of diversity in dance

Mitchell partners ballerina Diana Adams in Balanchine's masterpiece "Agon." The piece debuted in 1957 to an audience critical of the interracial cast. 

Mitchell partners ballerina Diana Adams in Balanchine's masterpiece "Agon." The piece debuted in 1957 to an audience critical of the interracial cast. 

Arthur Mitchell co-founded Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) with Karel Shook in 1969, in the recent wake of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. At a time of black optimism, as well as ongoing racial tension in America, DTH emerged to bring black youth into the ballet fold.

Mitchell, a former principal with George Balanchine’s renowned New York City Ballet, had been a rare and successful African-American participant in the elite, Caucasian world of pre-civil rights era classical ballet. With DTH, he envisioned a place where the children of Harlem, the poor, black Manhattan neighborhood where Mitchell grew up, would have the same opportunity he’d had to study ballet. Through affordable ticket pricing for community concerts, DTH also helped introduce the larger Harlem community to classical dance.  

Arthur Mitchell

Arthur Mitchell

Throughout the 1980s and 90s, DTH expanded its outreach and education programs, and became a leader in the world of neoclassical ballet. Today, Dance Theatre of Harlem is still recognized as an international tour-de-force and an important contributor to the landscape of American dance. The multi-racial performing company reflects the increasing diversity of dance and dancers, which it helped to initiate over four decades ago. 

The Company went on hiatus from 2004 - 2012 and is now back on the national stage, both at home in Harlem's Apollo Theatre, and on tour across the country.  Don't miss their first-ever appearance in Augusta, Jan. 30th at The Bell Auditorium. 

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Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dance Theatre of Harlem