Phoenix Rising: The Dance Theatre Of Harlem Makes A Comeback

This month the Dance Theatre of Harlem, on hiatus since 2004, announced plans to relaunch the company and will hold auditions in late February.

The Theatre was able to maintain its school and Dancing Through Barriers outreach program. Dance Theatre of Harlem II, a small training company for young artists, also remained in operation.

Virginia Johnson, a founding Theatre member, has returned to the company as artistic director. She, along with executive director Laveen Naidu, is spearheading the effort to re-establish the company by 2013.

Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook. Mitchell was the first African-American dancer ever to be made a permanent member of an American ballet company. After 15 years as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, Mitchell returned to Harlem, where he grew up, and began to teach classes in a garage on 152nd Street.Eventually, the Theatre grew into a 44-member professional ballet company. The troupe was unique because of its racial and cultural diversity.

In-person company auditions will be held on Feb. 25. For dancers who are unable to travel to New York, the Theatre is offering a rare opportunity: digital auditions.

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