From its modest beginnings in the 1960s in a Harlem church basement, to its meteoric rise to international fame, the Dance Theatre of Harlem ignited the world with one simple, still-revolutionary statement: All can do ballet. Into the 21st century, as the world, and the country, continue their historical struggles and triumphs, the story of this haven for dancers of all colors and backgrounds resonates more than ever. Here, for the first time, is the definitive portrait of the one-of-a-kind community dance company that reflected—and shaped—our times, and whose enduring principle continues to inspire the future.
With exclusive backstage stories from its legendary dancers and staff, and unprecedented access to its archives, Dance Theatre of Harlem is a striking chronicle of the company's amazing history, its fascinating daily workings, and the visionaries who made its legacy. Here you’ll discover how the company’s founders—African-American maestro Arthur Mitchell of George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, and Nordic-American Karel Shook of The Dutch National Ballet--created timeless works that challenged Eurocentric mainstream ballet head-on—and used new techniques to examine ongoing issues of power, beauty, myth, and the ever-changing definition of art itself.
Gaining prominence in the 1970s and 80s with a succession of triumphs—including its spectacular season at the Metropolitan Opera House—the company also gained fans and supporters that included Nelson Mandela, Stevie Wonder, Cicely Tyson, Misty Copeland, Jessye Norman, and six American presidents. Dance Theatre of Harlem details this momentous era as well as the company's difficult years, its impressive recovery as it partnered with new media's most brilliant creators—and, in the wake of its 50th anniversary, amid a global pandemic, its evolution into a worldwide virtual performance space.
Alive with stunning photographs, including many from the legendary Marbeth, this incomparable book is a must-have for any lover of dance, art, culture, or history.
About the Author
Judy Tyrus danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem for twenty-two years and was a principal ballerina for the Oakland Ballet. Since retiring from dance, she’s continued her work in the industry as an archivist, exhibition specialist, social media manager, photographer, and professor of dance. She currently works as a consultant for Dance Theatre of Harlem and is the co-founder of ChromaDiverse, Inc., a non-profit corporation which promotes cultural diversity in the performing arts. She resides in San Francisco, California.
Paul Novosel has had a forty-year career as a pianist, organist, playwright, and composer, performing as a keyboardist in major venues throughout the United States and Europe, including Carnegie Hall. He graduated summa cum laude as a music composition student of John Corigliano, was a dramatist student of Broadway’s William Hoffman, and received his MA in music from The University of Limerick, Ireland. He has served as assistant archivist and staff pianist at Dance Theatre of Harlem, and is the co-founder of ChromaDiverse, Inc. He lives in New York City.