Dance Theatre of Harlem Returns After 9 Years

The ballet company, founded in 1969, is back and rebuilding.

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Dance Theatre of Harlem website

After a nine-year hiatus because of a $2.3 million debt, the Dance Theatre of Harlem is returning to the stage, reports the New York Times.

What does Dance Theater of Harlem mean today? Does a primarily black ballet company even need to exist? Since its founding the company succeeded in promoting black classical dances while developing dozens of luminous, powerful dancers, including Ms. Johnson — who still glides across the Harlem studio like a swan — Karen Brown, Homer Bryant, Lorraine Graves, Alicia Graf Mack, Paul Russell and Donald Williams. Ms. Mack is now a member of the hugely popular Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Decades after Mr. Mitchell decided to expose children in Harlem to dance, black dancers are still rare in established ballet companies. Misty Copeland is a soloist at American Ballet Theater, and two apprentices at New York City Ballet, Silas Farley and Olivia Boisson, show tremendous promise. Yet it's no coincidence that Ms. Johnson chose to add the renowned Black Swan pas de deux to the Dance Theater of Harlem repertory this season.

"We still don't see enough dancers of color in companies across the country," Ms. Johnson said. "But I'm not lying when I say that people call me all the time saying, 'I need dancers of color.' It's a deeper problem. It goes back further in time that we're not training dancers of color, so our schools need to be more embracing, more welcoming, more aggressive."

Read more at the New York Times.

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