John Henry is the tale of the steel drivin’ man who fights against automation. He challenges the steam drill and wins, but dies with his hammer in his hand. Choreographed by DTH Co-founder Arthur Mitchell in 1988, his ballet is a testament to the singular perseverance that allowed the folk hero to triumph over impossible odds. Continue reading
Dance Theatre of Harlem’s iconic Firebird places the Russian folk tale about a magical bird that triumphs over evil in an exotic Caribbean setting. John Taras’ choreography to Stravinsky’s familiar score was further enlivened by sets and costumes by Geoffrey Holder. The 1982 DTH production was a tremendous worldwide success.
The Dance Theatre of Harlem premiered Passage, choreography by Claudia Schreier, during the 2019 DTH 50th anniversary season. Continue reading
Leo Holder, son of the choreographer Geoffrey Holder, and Dance Theatre of Harlem Artistic Director Virginia Johnson discuss the origins of Dougla. This is followed by a special presentation of Dougla from a 1977 PBS Broadcast.
The 2018 return of Geoffrey Holder’s masterwork Dougla to the repertoire Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) was a resounding success. The work is a sensorially sumptuous movement fest; and it is no wonder Dougla has remained an audience favorite since its premiere on April 16, 1974.
When the ballet Giselle was created in 1841, it was not imagined to be performed by men and women of color, Black men and women. In 1984, Dance Theatre of Harlem Co-Founder Arthur Mitchell changed that. The acclaimed DTH production of this classic, Creole Giselle, was re-conceived by Arthur Mitchell and staged by Frederic Franklin, based on the original by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot
Louis Johnson’s ballet, Forces of Rhythm choreographed in 1971, became a signature piece for the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Company. Johnson blended ballet, jazz, modern and West African dance creating a unique movement collage, which distinguished the company’s versatility. Forces of Rhythm took place alongside the works of George Balanchine, Arthur Mitchell, Geoffrey Holder, and other choreographers for the fledging ballet company. Continue reading
Arthur Mitchell’s Creole Giselle performed by the Dance Theatre Of Harlem (DTH), and set the traditional story of Giselle in 1841 Louisiana broke barriers with this all African American adaptation. Continue reading
By Walter Rutledge
Louis Johnson’s passing marks the end of an era in Black dance. Johnson was the last of the of his generation of 20th century American choreographers of African descent and International renowned. His contemporaries, Alvin Ailey, Talley Beatty, Geoffrey Holder, Donald McKayle, and Arthur Mitchell, all forged through the restrictive Jim Crow era of hatred and segregation; that unfortunately included the arts- and dance. Continue reading