Founded by Arthur Mitchell, who was the first African-American principal dancer of New York City Ballet, the company is steeped in the neoclassical style developed by George Balanchine. The current artistic director and resident choreographer, Robert Garland, has choreographed contemporary ballets to the music of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Motown music. The company’s most recent performance at the Detroit Opera House in 2022 featured Claudia Schreier’s Passage, a work commissioned to mark the 400th year of the arrival of enslaved Africans in North America, and Higher Ground, a ballet set to songs by Stevie Wonder.
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“In its more than 50-year history, Dance Theatre of Harlem has received international acclaim, performing in 44 states, 250 cities in North America, and in 40 countries on 6 continents. Dance Theatre of Harlem’s pioneering efforts to integrate stages and spread the art of ballet through outreach programs at home and abroad made it a beacon for Black dancers worldwide.” —Dance Magazine
“The Dance Theatre of Harlem is a legend in the history of American dance…. They performed with jaw-dropping strength and control, almost scalpel-like in the precision of balletic movement that powerfully gave the impression of cutting shapes through space and time. The effect was breathtaking.” —Times Colonist, March 2023
“The company is assured and radiant in a challenging Balanchine and a moody piece set to James Blake’s electronic soul music… This company’s first work by Forsythe, and its sexiness suits them… They spin and shine in individualized ways. These dancers can do Forsythe, and they can do Balanchine.” —New York Times, April 2023