In December 2018, my husband and I had the pleasure of visiting the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City. Anna Glass, executive director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, gave us a fantastic tour. It was so interesting to see rehearsals and other activities happening in the various studios.
At the Dance Theatre of Harlem School’s holiday show, we loved watching the beautiful ballerinas perform and hearing about the history of the school. Some members of the audience won advance copies of BRAVE BALLERINA: The Story of Janet Collins in a raffle. It was an honor to see the Dance Theatre of Harlem up close – with its rich history as a groundbreaking cultural institution.
Inspired by the Civil Rights movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Arthur Mitchell and his former teacher, Karel Shook, co-founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969. Mitchell was born in Harlem in 1934, and he wanted to make ballet available to children in his community.
The goal was to create a place where black dancers could have the training and opportunities to excel in classical ballet. Like Janet Collins, Arthur Mitchell kept dancing -- and helped other dancers pursue their dreams – even when the world was not supportive because of racial discrimination. As Arthur Mitchell wisely said: “Walk into a room knowing you are somebody, somebody special. Don’t ever let them smash that or pull you down.”
For more information about the company and school, visit the Dance Theatre of Harlem Web site.
Author Michelle Meadows blogs about reading, writing, and publishing children’s books. Subscribe to receive Michelle’s email newsletter/blog posts, and get a chance to win signed books through giveaways.