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Dance Theatre of Harlem: Through The Years was originally published on hellobeautiful.com

1. Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dance Theatre of Harlem

The historical Black ballet company is still as pivotal for the community now as it was when Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook opened its doors in the late ’60s. As the company celebrates it’s 45th anniversary, #TeamBeautiful takes a look at their legacy through the years. Prepare to be inspired.

2. Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook

Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook

Shortly after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969.

Photo by: Marbeth

3. Church Of The Master

Church Of The Master

The school, which first started teaching classes in a garage on 152nd street, was meant to give opportunities for children in New York who wanted to dance.

Photo by: Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives

4. Ode To Otis

Ode To Otis

The theatre’s first ballet, “Ode To Otis,” made its debut in 1969 and featured music from legend Otis Redding.

Photo by: Marbeth

5. Guggenheim

Guggenheim

The Dance Theatre of Harlem created its neoclassical ballet company that made its debut in 1971 at the Guggenheim Museum.

Photo by: Suzanne Vlamis

6. Concerto Barocco

Concerto Barocco

Legendary choreographer and New York City Ballet co-founder George Balanchine invited Mitchell to co-choreograph “Concerto for Jazz Band and Orchestra” as part of a collaboration between New York City Ballet and DTH.

Photo by: Martha Swope

7. Afternoon Of A Faun

Afternoon Of A Faun

French dancer Tanaquil Le Clercq who was known for her most famous ballet, “Afternoon Of A Faun,” was recruited by Mitchell to teach at DTH until she died at 71.

Photo by: Anthony Crickmay

8. Forces Of Rhythm

Forces Of Rhythm

Louis Johnson created “Forces of Rhythm” for DTH in 1972.

Photo by: Jack Vartoogian

9. Dougla

Dougla

The theatre received rave reviews for many of their original pieces, like “Dougla,” that were performed during the 1980s.

Photo by: Martha Swope

10. Giselle

Giselle

In one of Mitchell’s most famous works, “Giselle,” free Black plantation owners in antebellum Louisiana were explored.

Photo by: Dance Theatre Of Harlem Archives

11. Pas De Dix

Pas De Dix

In “Pas De Dix,” DTH delves deeper into the beauty of movement and space.

Photo by: Leslie Spatt

12. Beautiful Brown Ballerinas

Beautiful Brown Ballerinas

DTH’s dancers are known for their grace, but also for their customized pointe shoes that were dyed to match their specific complexions.

Photo by: Eduardo Patino

13. Troy Game

Troy Game

The New York Times called “Troy Dance” one of DTH’s “happiest dances” because of its Brazilian-influenced score.

Photo by: Martha Swope

14. Voluntaries

Voluntaries

Virginia Johnson may be the theatre’s artistic director, but she was also one of the lead dancers in “Voluntaries.”

Photo by: Linda Rich

15. Dancers Greet Nelson Mandela

Dancers Greet Nelson Mandela

“Watching the Harlem Dance Theatre was a wonderful experience which I enjoyed immensely. I forgot the hardships that I endured all my life.” — Nelson Mandela

Photo by: Marbeth

16. Agon

Agon

“Agon” was controversial when it made it’s debut in 1957 — Mitchell danced in the piece with Diana Adams, a White ballet dancer — and in 2009, dancers modernized the piece and began performing it again.

Photo by: Joseph Rodman

17. New Bach

New Bach

“New Bach” was choreographer Robert Garland’s ode to George Balanchine.

Photo by: Joseph Rodman

18. St. Louis Woman

St. Louis Woman

“St. Louis Woman” was adapted from a 1940s musical and featured lively choreography and colorful costumes.

Photo by: Joseph Rodman

19. Return

Return

Two strong dancers grace the stage in “Return.”

Photo by: Joseph Rodman

20. Sphinx

Sphinx

Glen Tetley originally created the “Sphinx” in 1977 for American Ballet Theater, but when DTH performed it in 2001, it received rave reviews.

Photo by: Eduardo Patino

21. The Four Temperaments

The Four Temperaments

“The Four Temperaments” is another original piece choreographed by George Balanchine.

Photo by: Joseph Rodman

22. Return

Return

Another scene from “Return” showcases the dancers’ poise and strength against an intense red backdrop.

Photo by: Rachel Neville

23. Episode

Episode

Dancers Alexandra Jacob Wilson and Samuel Wilson bring “Episode” to life.

Photo by: Joseph Rodman

24. Return

Return

The dancers in “Return” look lovely in their attitude ballet position.

Photo by: Joseph Rodman

25. Agon

Agon

In “Agon,” dancers perform solos, duets, trios and quartets influenced by 17th-century French dances.

Photo by: Judy Tyrus

26. When Love

When Love

“When Love” is an enchanting performance that features DTH’s Jenelle Figgins and Da’Von Doane.

Photo by: Matthew Murphy

27. White Tutu

White Tutu

A lovely Black dancer looks angelic in a beautiful white tutu.

Photo by: Rachel Neville

28. Black Swan Pas De Deux

Black Swan Pas De Deux

A beautiful Black swan graces the stage in “Pas De Deux.”

Photo by: Rachel Neville

29. Contested Space

Contested Space

Artistic director of Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theater Donald Byrd created the work, “Contested Space.”

Photo by: Judy Tyrus

30. Lark Ascending

Lark Ascending

DTH’s production of “Lark Ascending” was the first performance of “Ascending” to put women on pointe, the famous ballet position that has ballerinas on the tip of their toes.

Photo by: Matthew Murphy

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