DTH Biography

Inspired by a dream

Dance Theatre of Harlem is a leading dance institution of unparalleled global acclaim, encompassing a "Classically American® dance company, a leading arts education center and Dancing Through Barriers®, a national and international education and community outreach program.

Each component of Dance Theatre of Harlem carries a solid commitment towards enriching the lives of young people and adults around the world through the arts.

Founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, Dance Theatre of Harlem was considered “one of ballet’s most exciting undertakings” (The New York Times, 1971). Shortly after the assassination of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mitchell was inspired to start a school that would offer children — especially those in Harlem, the community in which he was born — the opportunity to learn about dance and the allied arts. Now in its fourth decade, Dance Theatre of Harlem has grown into a multi- cultural dance institution with an extraordinary legacy of providing opportunities for creative expression and artistic excellence that continues to set standards in the performing arts.

Laveen Naidu, Executive Director

Laveen Naidu was born in Durban, South Africa, and began studying South Indian classical dance at the age of 10 and classical ballet at age 14. He entered the University of Cape Town Ballet School on a full scholarship in 1986 and graduated with a diploma in ballet pedagogy in 1988. As a student, Naidu was selected to represent the university at the first National Ballet Competition, where he advanced to the finalist round and received special mention from the judges. He was also invited to perform with the Natal Arts Performing Board in one of the lead roles in Frank Staff’s “Lady and the Fool.” As a volunteer, Naidu became the first dance teacher in a project that was started by David Poole, then artistic director of the Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB) Ballet, designed to introduce young people in the nearby “black townships” to ballet.

Immediately following his graduation, Naidu was accepted into the CAPAB Ballet Company and was featured in many soloist roles before receiving a scholarship from the Dance Theatre of Harlem School. In 1991, he joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company, where he performed in works by Arthur Mitchell, Billy Wilson, Michael Smuin, Geoffrey Holder, Garth Fagan and other well-known choreographers.

 Five years later, Naidu assumed the responsibility of Dance Theatre of Harlem School Ensemble Coordinator, which involved coaching and preparing a core group of pre-professional dancers for a professional career. Answering the need for the growing demand of educational activities, Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) formalized its educational and community outreach activities under the banner of Dancing Through Barriers®. Naidu served as the Director of Dancing Through Barriers from 1997 to 2004, where he was responsible for overseeing all the artistic and administrative functions of the program.

 In 1998, in collaboration with Arthur Mitchell, co-founder and artistic director of DTH, and Augustus van Heerdan, ballet master, Naidu choreographed his first ballet for the DTH Company. The ballet, named South African Suite, was commissioned by The Kennedy Center and received very favorable reviews at its premier in Washington D.C. South African Suite has since been performed throughout the United States and in several foreign countries and remains a featured work in the DTH repertory.

In 2000, Naidu took on the additional responsibility as Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, where he oversaw all activities of both the DTH School and Dancing Through Barriers.

Naidu choreographed Viraa for the DTH Company, which premiered in New York City in September 2001. He also served as a visiting lecturer and choreographer at Barnard College in 2004.

 In December 2004, Naidu was appointed to his current position of executive director for Dance Theatre of Harlem. That same year Naidu became a member of the Arts Management / Capacity Building Program at The Kennedy Center under the leadership of Michael Kaiser. Additionally, he completed the Executive Leadership Program at Harvard Business School in June 2008.

Karel Shook (1920 - 1985) - Co-Founder

 

Karel Shook  (1920 - 1985)Co-Founder, Dance Theatre of Harlem

 

Karel Shook is recognized internationally as one of the most influential and productive ballet teachers of our time. Born in Renton, Wash., he began his career as a child actor at the Seattle Repertory Theater. At the age of 13, he was awarded a scholarship to the Cornish School of Allied Arts and became the special protégé of its founder, Nellie Cornish, who encouraged him to study ballet. He was, for several seasons, a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. He also appeared in Broadway musicals and spent one year with the New York City Ballet. In 1952, he joined the faculty of the Katherine Dunham School as director of the ballet department. When the Dunham School closed, he established his own school, the Studio of Dance Arts — where he taught most of the leading black dancers and choreographers of today. In 1957, he joined the faculty of the June Taylor School. In the fall of 1959, at the invitation of Sonia Gaskell, he became first teacher and ballet master of the Dutch National Ballet, a post he held for nine years. In 1968, he returned to the States to become Arthur Mitchell’s co-director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Besides his unusual gifts as a teacher, Shook was also a choreographer and writer. While in the Netherlands, he choreographed 24 works for stage, opera, film and television, among which were the highly successful Jazz Nocturne, The Tales of Hoffman, Rigoletto, I Capuletti ed i Montecchi, Alceste, an opera-ballet for television, and Da Capo, out of which came an hour-long television documentary on the making of a ballet. For the Dance Theatre of Harlem, he has restaged two pas de deux: Don Quixote and Le Corsaire, a Dance Theatre of Harlem crowd pleaser and signature work throughout the years. While in Holland, he wrote many articles on dance. In addition, a portfolio of his poems, “Beyond the Mist,” with lithographs by the celebrated painter, Sam Middleton, was published in a limited edition by ARTA, The Hague, in 1968. Shook is the author of the book Elements of Classical Ballet Technique, published by Dance Horizons (1978) and “New York, London, and Dancers as Ambassadors” in Unified World (is this a book or magazine?) (1978).

Shook had numerous, highly developed talents as a musician, sculptor, accomplished chef, gardener and linguist. However, he regarded himself first and foremost as a ballet teacher. Outside of New York City and Amsterdam, he taught for extended periods in Stockholm, Paris, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, Seville, Bordeaux, Monte Carlo, Brussels, Frankfurt, Cologne, St. Thomas, Wichita and Tonawanda, New York, where he was artistic advisor to Maris Battaglia’s American Academy of Ballet.

Dance Theatre of Harlem Company

  Lindsey Croop, Midland, Texas
Lindsey Pitts began her formal ballet training at Coleman Academy under the direction of Susan Clark and Judy Coleman. She continued her studies during summer intensives with Milwaukee Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Ballet Austin and The Ailey School. Following high school, she attended Butler University, where she received dual degrees in dance arts administration and strategic communications. Ms. Pitts began her professional career with Nashville Ballet's second company, performing under the direction of Paul Vasterling in full-length ballets that included The Nutcracker, Giselle and Swan Lake.
 

Fredrick Davis, Brooklyn, New York
Born in New York City, Fredrick Davis moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee and started his training at the age of 11 with a full scholarship for Ballet Tennessee. In 2004, he graduated from the Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts and moved back to New York City to continue his training with the Joffrey Ballet School. After completing three years with Joffrey, he was able to study with a full scholarship at summer intensives by American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Ballet Academy East, Magnus Midwest Dance and Ballet Tennessee. Mr. Davis then joined Roxey Ballet Company, dancing in works such as Othello, Carmen, Diana and Actaeon and Sleeping Beauty. Soon after finishing his season with Roxey, Mr. Davis joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble. He has also worked as a freelancer with Ballet Fantastique, Benjamin Briones Ballet, Staten Island Ballet and Ajkun Ballet Theatre. Mr. Davis has participated in the Dance for America Tour, DTH Vision Gala, The Kennedy Center Honors, the Donald McKayle Tribute performance in Irvine, California and the Paramount Theatre Gala in Seattle, Washington.

Da’ Von Doane, Salisbury, Maryland
Da’ Von Doane began his training at the Salisbury Studio of Dance (now Salisbury Dance Academy) where he trained with Betty Webster, Tatiana Akinfieva-Smith and Elena Manakhova.  As a member of the schools’ regional dance company, the Eastern Shore Ballet Theatre, he performed various roles in annual productions of The Nutcracker, Coppélia, Scheherazade and the Polovtsian Dances¸ among others. Mr. Doane has attended summer intensives at the Kirov Academy of Ballet (Washington, D.C.) and the Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Theatre. At age 15, he returned to ACBT as a full-time academic student and trained there for four years. In 2008, Mr. Doane moved to New York City to join the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble and performed at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival that summer. In 2009, Mr. Doane performed with Ballet Noir at East River Park as part of SummerStage and with Jacob’s Pillow once again. In the fall of 2009, he danced as part of the Dance Theatre of Harlem with roles in the Joplin Dances, New Bach, the excerpt “Mother Popcorn,” Concerto In F, Fete Noir and South African Suite. And in the winter of 2009, he began touring with DTH as a part of its Dance for America Tour. As a guest artist, Mr. Doane has performed with the Classical Contemporary Ballet Theatre and with choreographer Ja' Malik in 2009’s E-moves Emerging Choreographers Showcase. In the summer of 2010, Mr. Doane performed once again with Ballet Noir in the 200th Anniversary Chopin Celebration and the 2010 World Dance Gala in Kielce, Poland.  In 2011, Mr. Doane danced roles in Glinka Pas de Trois, In the Mirror Of Her Mind and Contested Space.  
Chyrstyn Fentroy, Los Angeles, California
Chyrstyn Mariah Fentroy was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she trained with her mother Ruth Fentroy until the age of 17. She then moved to New York City after being offered a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School trainee program. During her first year there, she was asked to join the Joffrey Ballet School Performance Company in which she danced several principal roles in works such as Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations and Davis Robertson’s UnEquilibrium. Ms. Fentroy competed in the Youth America Grand Prix finals in New York in 2010 and 2011, where she was then asked to compete in the Beijing International Ballet and Choreography Competition. She has also had her contemporary choreography recognized in other competitions.
Jenelle Figgins, Washington, D.C.
Jenelle Figgins began her training at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet, Dance Institute of Washington and Duke Ellington School of the Performing Arts. While training, she received scholarships to attend Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Kennedy Summer Intensive. She went on to attend SUNY Purchase New York on partial scholarship and in 2011 received her B.F.A. with honors in dance. Following graduation, she attended Springboard Danse Montreal in 2011. Ms. Figgins has been featured in works by Sarah Mettin, Kevin Thomas, Emily Molnar, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, George Balanchine, Nora Reynolds and Hinton Battle. She has danced professionally with Mettin Movement Collective, Collage dance Collective and Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montréal. 
Emiko Flanagan, Westlake Village, CA
Emiko Flanagan received her early dance training from California Dance Theatre and attended summer programs at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, and San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. She continued her studies at UC Irvine as a BFA student in Dance Performance. After her sophomore year, she took a leave of absence from school to be a trainee with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. The following year Emiko was an apprentice with the Richmond Ballet for their 2010-2011 season and then spent one year in the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program. She has performed in works by choreographers such as George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Salvatore Aiello, Jodie Gates, Alexei Kremnev, and Keelan Whitmore.
Jehbreal Muhammad Jackson, Dallas, Texas
Jehbreal Muhammad Jackson began his formal training in ballet at 10 years old, being placed accidentally into the wrong classroom by an afterschool program advisor. He found his heart in classical and contemporary dance and continued to study at the Dallas Black Dance Academy, W. E. Greiner Middle School of the Exploratory and Performing Arts, and the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Mr. Jackson is a graduate of The Juilliard School in New York under the direction of Lawrence Rhodes, where he performed the works of Alexander Ekman, Stijn Celis, Mark Morris, Jerome Robbins, William Forsythe and Ohad Naharin. Recently, Mr. Jackson performed as a guest with Ballet Noir NYC, sharing the stage with performers from American Ballet Theatre and the Polish National Ballet for their Chopin festival. In October 2010, he performed with Keigwin + Company at the annual Fall for Dance festival at New York City Center. He has also been a featured vocalist with various jazz bands at Juilliard and embarked on a concert tour to Brazil. 
Alexandra Jacob, Oakland, California
Alexandra Jacob began her first formal Vaganova ballet training at the age of 8 at Berkeley City Ballet. Ms. Jacob also attended summer programs at the Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alonzo King LINES Ballet on scholarships. After graduating high school, she pursued an architecture degree at the California College of the Arts. Three years into her college career, she rediscovered her love for ballet and decided to return to New York in the fall of 2004 to attend the Joffrey Ballet School. She joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble in January 2005 under the direction of Arthur Mitchell. Ms. Jacob toured with the ensemble throughout the United States and internationally, performing featured roles by Peter Pucci, Donald Byrd, Christopher L. Huggins, Lowell Smith and Arthur Mitchell. 
Dustin James, Houston, Texas
Dustin James began his dance training at age 11 in Houston and later attended the city’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. While attending HSPVA, he also began studying at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy and became a member of Houston Ballet II for two years. While there, Mr. James was trained and coached by Claudio Muñoz as well as Lázaro Carreño, Phillip Broomhead and Priscilla Nathan-Murphy. After completing his training, Mr. James joined BalletMet Columbus, where he danced for four seasons and performed works by such choreographers as Stanton Welch, Darrell Grand Moultrie and Ma Cong.
Francis Lawrence, Melbourne, Australia
Francis Lawrence studied at The Australian Ballet School where he graduated with a diploma in dance. While at the school, he danced with The Australian Ballet and with its regional Dancers Company for two years. Upon arriving in the states, Mr. Lawrence joined New York Theatre Ballet for their 30th season in Cinderella and Dance/Speak: The Life of Agnes de Mille and has danced for the Grand Rapids Ballet Company under the direction of Patricia Barker. During his time in the company, he performed repertoire by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, José Limón, Paul Taylor, Ulysses Dove, Lew Christensen, David Parson and Mario Radacovsky. In the states he has studied under programs offered by The Ailey School, Complexions and Hubbard Street, getting to work with choreographers like Pedro Ruiz, Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson.  Mr. Lawrence most recently worked with Olivier Weavers on Fragments, as well as a new work, The Couch. 
 

Nayara Lopes, Curitiba, Brazil
Nayara Lopes started dancing at age six and trained both at the School of Theatre Dance Guaira in Brazil and American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in New York City. Following her early training, she joined Orlando Ballet II, where she performed roles in Carmen, Giselle and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  She joined The National Ballet of Canada as an Apprentice in 2011 where she performed in many full-length ballets including Nutcracker, Giselle, La Fille mal Gardee and Alice in Wonderland. Ms. Lopes has competed in ballet competitions such as the Youth America Grand Prix- finals (New York, NY) where she received the Mary Day Special Award and the Youth America Grand Prix- Regionals (Columbia, South Carolina) where she was the Grand Prix Winner 2011.. She has worked with choreographers including Christopher Wheeldon, James Kudelka, Lindsay Fischer, Robert Hill, Raymond Lukens and Jessica Lang. Additional roles include Kitri in Don Quixote Dream Scene, Allegro Brillante, Black Swan and the Sleeping Beauty Pas de Deux. This will be her first year with the DTH Company.

                  
Ashley Murphy, Shreveport, Louisiana
Ashley Murphy began her dance training at age 3. She was enrolled in the pre-professional division at Carol Anglin Dance Center from 1993-2002, where she became a member of Louisiana Dance Theatre, an Honor Company of Regional Dance America. She has also performed for Shreveport Opera and Moscow State Ballet as well as in the premiere of William Joyce’s The Leaf Men and The Brave Good Bugs. She represented LDT in the Regional Dance America performance at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi and attended summer programs at New York’s Joffrey Ballet School and The Ailey School. In 2002, Ms. Murphy went on to train and perform with Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Dancing Through Barriers® Ensemble. The following year, she was accepted into the DTH Company and toured with them throughout the United States and to foreign countries that included Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Greece. Ms. Murphy has also taught for the DTH Pre-Professional Residency at the Kennedy Center. White House special, appearing on BET’s 106 & Park and the game show Jeopardy, and representing the U.S. in a cultural exchange program in Kingston, Jamaica. In 2011, she was chosen for a new work by Christopher L. Huggins that was commissioned for Dancers Responding to AIDS.
Gabrielle Salvatto, New York, New York
Gabrielle Salvatto, a native New Yorker born and raised in the Bronx, began her ballet training at the Dance Theatre of Harlem at age 8. She continued her studies at The School of American Ballet and received her high school diploma from La Guardia H.S. of Music & Art and Performing Arts. She went on to graduate from the Juilliard dance B.F.A. program, where she performed repertoire by Ohad Naharin, Jerome Robbins, Nacho Duato, Eliot Feld and José Limón, among others. Ms. Salvatto has since danced for Austin McCormick's Company XIV and Sarah Berges Dance. Further training includes Hubbard Street, Complexions and Springboard Danse Montreal. After a year dancing and performing with the Professional Training Program at DTH, Gabrielle proudly joined the newly formed company in August 2011.  
Anthony H. Javier Savoy, Jr., Annapolis, Maryland
Anthony Javier Savoy was born in Annapolis, Maryland and began his formal training at the age of 15 studying at various schools in and around Maryland and Washington, DC. In 2004 he was accepted on full scholarship to study under the tutelage of founder and artistic director Abigail Francisco, at Abigail Francisco's School of Classical Ballet in North Beach, Maryland. In 2006, Mr. Savoy was awarded a medal and title of, Maryland All State Dancer by the Congressional House Representative of Maryland. He continued his studies at Point Park University with a concentration in ballet. In Spring of 2008, he left Point Park University to attend Anne Arundel Community College, transferring his earned credits towards a Bachelors in Fine Arts and Minor in Biology. Mr. Savoy has attended summer intensive’s at Earl Mosley's Institute of the Arts, Point Park University, The Kirov Academy, American Ballet Theatre and Dance Theatre of Harlem. He spent two years as a member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble performing works by George Balanchine, Arthur Mitchell, Donald Byrd, and Robert Garland among many others. In 2011, while a member of the ensemble, Anthony had the opportunity to work with choreographer Christopher Huggins on his new creation, "In the Mirror of her Mind". The piece was commissed for Dance Theatre of Harlem for the Fire Island Dance Festival 17 in collaboration with Dancers Responding to AIDS and  Broadway Cares.  In 2012 Mr. Savoy acted as a cultural ambassador for the United States while performing and doing community outreach in Kingston, Jamaica.
Ingrid Silva, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ingrid Silva began her formal ballet training at the age of 8 at Dançando Para Não Dançar, the Deborah Colker school and Escola de Dança Maria Olenewa. She has also apprenticed with Company Grupo Corpo in Brazil. After entering the Univercidade da Cidade College, she decided to follow her passion and traveled to New York in 2007. That summer, she attended the Dance Theatre of Harlem Summer Intensive Program, and afterwards joined the school’s Professional Training Program. She became a member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble in 2008. Ms. Silva has also performed with Armitage Gone! Dance performing GAGA-Gaku at the Joyce Theater in 2011. 

Stephanie Rae Williams, Salt Lake City, Utah


Born in Utah and raised in Texas, Stephanie Williams received her early training at Dallas Dance Academy with Fiona Fairrie. Ms. Williams made her professional debut with Ben Stevenson’s Texas Ballet Theater in 2006-07, and she most recently danced as a company member with the Francesca Harper Project and Ballet Black.  Ms. Williams was an apprentice with Complexions in 2009, and has also studied during summers at The Juilliard School, Alonzo King LINES Ballet and Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy.  She was a fellowship recipient at The Ailey School, a 2006 National Foundation on the Arts award winner, a 2006 Youth America Grand Prix Finalist and a 2004 Texas Commission on the Arts Young Master. 

Samuel Wilson, Bremerton, Washington
Samuel Wilson started dancing ballet at the age of 15 with the Peninsula Dance Theatre. Since then, he has danced in summer programs such as Summer Dance Lab in Walla Walla, Washington and American Ballet Theatre in Austin, Texas. It wasn’t until 2003, when Mr. Wilson came to Dance Theatre of Harlem that he started his professional career and joined the Dancing Through Barriers® Ensemble. DTH has provided Mr. Wilson with the opportunity to perform in venues such as the White House, BET's 106 & Park, Fox 5 News, The Kennedy Center and The Joyce Theater in New York. He has also had the opportunity to work with world-renowned choreographers and study under influential teachers like Arthur Mitchell and Eva Evdokimava. Mr. Wilson has also developed into a high caliber teacher and dance coach himself, working in ballet schools and summer programs such as Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts and the Voorhees Ballet. 
 

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Keith Saunders (Ballet Master)

Keith Saunders, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, began dancing in 1971 while a student at Harvard University.   He began his ballet training in 1973 at the National Center for Afro-American Artists in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  Mr. Saunders joined Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1975 and continued his development under the tutelage of Arthur Mitchell, Karel Shook and William Griffith.  He became a principal dancer with DTH and performed a wide range of roles throughout the company’s repertoire for more than 17 years.   He also danced with France's Ballet du Nord (1986) and BalletMet of Columbus, Ohio (1987-1989). 

    

As a guest artist, Mr. Saunders appeared with Boston Repertory Ballet, Maryland Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet, Ballethnic Dance Company, and the David Parsons Company, among others.  He has been a faculty member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, the BalletMet Dance Academy (where he also served as Education Director), the New Ballet School (now Ballet Tech), and the 92nd Street Y.  In 2003, Mr. Saunders was Guest Artist-in-Residence in the Dance Department at the University of Wyoming, and he taught and choreographed at their Snowy Range Dance Festival from 2003 – 2008. 

 

Keith Saunders was appointed Dance Theatre of Harlem's assistant ballet master in 1994 and ballet master in 1996.  From 2004 - 2010, Mr. Saunders was director of Dancing Through Barriers®, Dance Theatre of Harlem's international education and outreach initiative, in addition to directing the DTH Ensemble.

 

Robert Garland (Resident Choreographer)
Robert Garland was a principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and is now Resident Choreographer. He has created works for the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company, and their School Ensemble. He has also choreographed for New York City Ballet, The Royal Ballet, and Oakland Ballet, among many others.

After creating a work for the Dance Theatre of Harlem School Ensemble, Arthur Mitchell invited Robert Garland to create a work for The Dance Theatre of Harlem Company. Upon his retirement from the stage, he was appointed by Arthur Mitchell and became the organization’s first Resident Choreographer.

His commercial work has included music videos, commercials and short films, including the children’s television show Sesame Street, a Nike commercial featuring New York Yankee Derek Jeter, the NAACP Image Awards, a short film for designer Donna Karan, and the “Charmin Cha-Cha” for Proctor and Gamble.

Arthur Mitchell - Founder, Artistic Director Emeritus

Arthur Mitchell is known around the world as an accomplished artistic director, astute educator, talented choreographer and extraordinary dancer. Born in New York City on March 27, 1934, he began his dance training at New York City’s High School of the Performing Arts, where he was the first male student to win the coveted Annual Dance Award.

Mitchell continued his classical training when he received a full scholarship to the School of American Ballet.  In 1955, he was the first African-American male to become a permanent member of a major ballet company when he joined the New York City Ballet.

During his 15-year career with the New York City Ballet, Mitchell rose quickly to the rank of principal dancer and electrified audiences with his performances in a broad spectrum of roles. Mitchell is best known for two roles choreographed especially for him by the late George Balanchine: the pas de deux from Agon and the lighthearted Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Performing in nightclubs, on Broadway, in film, and on television, Mitchell was also a popular guest artist in the United States and abroad.

In 1966, Mitchell was asked to organize the American Negro Dance Company, which represented the United States at the first World Festival of Negro Arts in Senegal, Africa. In 1967, at the request of the US International Association, he founded the National Ballet Company of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

Upon learning of the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, Mitchell was inspired to provide children ― especially those living in Harlem ― with the opportunity to study dance. During the summer of 1968, he began teaching classes in a remodeled garage. In 1969, with financial assistance from Mrs. Alva B. Gimbel, the Ford Foundation and his own savings, Mitchell founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with his mentor and ballet instructor Karel Shook.

As a professional dance company and a school of the allied arts, the continued expansion of Dance Theatre of Harlem into a multicultural institution has attracted thousands of professional dancers and students from around the world. Arthur Mitchell adds to the legacy every day as Dance Theatre of Harlem’s founding artistic director.

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