Opening Reception for Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer took place on the 8th floor of Columbia University’s Manhattanville Campus Lenfest Center for the Arts. The gathering celebrated the first major exhibition devoted to the life and accomplishments of Arthur Mitchell, New York City Ballet’s first African- American principal dancer, and founder/artistic director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The evening brought together former and present Dance Theatre of Harlem company members and staff, colleagues, old friends, balletomanes; and dance and cultural historians. In an unexpected highlight Mitchell partnered former DTH dancer Paunika Jones reinforcing that this octogenarian teacher, choreographer, dance and social icon still leads by example.
Mitchell donated his personal archive to Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library in 2014. The Arthur Mitchell Collection on display in the 6th floor Wallach Art Gallery was curated by Lynn Garafola, Professor Emerita of Dance, Barnard College, and includes photographs, drawings, posters, memorabilia, and rare video footage. The collection not only provides an important insight into the groundbreaking career of Mitchell, but also illustrates how the arts can create social change. “I believe that dance, and the arts more broadly, can be used as a catalyst for social change—this is why I started the Dance Theatre of Harlem”, states Mitchell.
Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer runs from January 13 through March 11, 2018. In addition to the exhibition special events have been planned including:
An Afternoon with Arthur Mitchell
Saturday, January 20, 2018 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
This special afternoon includes a rare screening of the dance documentary, Rhythmetron with a live appearance by Arthur Mitchell.
Wallach Gallery Talks
Saturday January 27, 2018 1:00 – 1:30PM
Learn more about key works in the Arthur Mitchell archive from different perspectives. All talks begin at 1 pm and meet in the Wallach Art Gallery lobby on the 6th floor. Lynn Garafola, exhibition curator and Professor Emerita of Dance, Barnard College, Columbia University.
Wallach Family Afternoon
Saturday February 10, 2018 1:00 – 3:00PM
An afternoon of storytelling, art-making and movement for families to enjoy together.
For more information about the Wallach Art Gallery and the Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer exhibition and related events including: An Afternoon with Arthur Mitchell (January 20, 2018, 1pm) and Panel Discussion with former dancers from the Dance Theatre of Harlem (February 24, 2018, 1pm) visit wallach.columbia.edu.
January 13– March 11, 2018
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.
The collection provides insight into the career and life mission of Mitchell, as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and social activist.
The first major exhibition devoted to Arthur Mitchell, this project celebrates the life and accomplishments of the New York City Ballet’s first African American star, and the founder and longtime director of the Dance Theater of Harlem. This event will take place on Friday, January 12, from 6-8 pm in the spacious new Wallach Art Gallery at the Lenfest Center for the Arts.