In 1968, at the height of the civil rights movement, Arthur Mitchell founded Dance Theatre of Harlem. His vision remains one of the most democratic in dance.
In moments of extreme injustice and frustration the most impactful art is born. This is true of the inception of one of the most influential American ballet companies of the last five decades, Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Arthur Mitchell created the company in New York City, after making history in 1955 as the first black principal dancer at New York City Ballet. He was also the famed protégé of George Balanchine—the Russian-born dancer, choreographer and co-founder of the School of American Ballet. Mitchell’s impulse to start Dance Theatre of Harlem is said to have been spurred by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.
Words:Djassi DaCosta Johnson
Photography:Courtesy of Dance Theatre Harlem
This story appears in a print issue of Kinfolk. You’re welcome to read three stories from each print issue of Kinfolk for free. To continue reading this story, click here.
If you'd like to enjoy unlimited access to our online archive, subscribe here. If you’re already a subscriber, please sign in.
Alternatively, keep browsing Kinfolk.com to enjoy more free content.