The 50th anniversary season of the beloved Dance Theatre of Harlem will honor its legendary Founding Artistic Director Arthur Mitchell, who passed away on September 19, 2018, with a memorial service on December 3, 2018.
Free and open to the Dance Theatre of Harlem community and friends, the memorial will include performances by the company, alumni, students from the School and special guests.
The memorial marks the official start of Dance Theatre’s 50th anniversary season overseen by Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director and Anna Glass, Executive Director. A keystone in the year is the annual New York City Center engagement from April 10-13, 2019.
So emotional to have lost Arthur Mitchell at this juncture!
Dedicated to his life and legacy, the City Center program will include a reimagined version of Mitchell’s 1971 ballet, Tones, which he began setting on the current company, renaming it Tones II, right before his sudden death.
ed. note: I would like to take this occasion to respectfully share my writing about Dance Theater of Harlem and my soon-following interview with Arthur Mitchell for the Los Angeles Times dating from 2010. It was an honor to interview him, and I love the company.
Arthur Mitchell memorial | Riverside Church, New York City | Dec 3, 3 pm
Dance Theater of Harlem | 50th Anniversary Season | City Center | April 10-13
As always, thank you Debra for keeping us connected to our mentors and beloved friends and leaders of dance. As the former Exe Dir of CAAM, it was my honor to bring my mentor, former boss (DTH Ex Dir in the 80s) and friend Arthur Mitchell to Los Angeles for live one-on-one conversations On that occasion of 2020, you will see in the lower left corner of Ian Foxx’s fine photographic capture of Mr. Mitchell’s laugh in the LA Times, a black fabric with white polka dots partially covering a lower leg and a foot snug in an open toe shoe, almost semi-pointed as if conscious that it was in the presence of ballet greatness.
This was the sense of presence and expectation to be your best self that Mr. Mitchell drew out of everyone he met, no matter how well or how long you new him. On that occasion, I was the one who sat at attention…so trusting that I asked Mr. M to choose which dress I should wear…he chose the polka dots….I was Mr. M’s interviewer or should I say served as the time keeper and discussion guider because while Mr. M. could be interviewed, what he chose to discuss could never be controlled.
Arthur Mitchell had been an amazing dancer, but he was also equally astonishing at being on stage…even when there was no stage. He used that strength 24/7 to turn nothing into something great, and offers that the could have taken just for himself he handed over as opportunities for his beloved Dance Theatre of Harlem. He was innovative and demanding, fun and tense, gracious and always mindful of the settings in which he found himself and the ambassador-like role his DTH was required to serve. He never gave less to his community than he would give the Queen of England, and he expected the same from all of us who were a part of the DTH family. We trusted him, even when his tough moments were heart-wrenching, and in turn we (dancers and staff alike) worked even through being tired to bring him and DTH the world that he wanted for his home community of Harlem for all of us and the Black race of which he had been born a part.
If you were ever touched by Arthur Mitchell, your life was forever changed for the good. I can’t even imagine him as a spirit no longer on this planet, but then again maybe that is because has never stopped being an inspiring force even when there was an entire continent between us. To this day, he remains always a voice of guidance in my head and I am grateful and lucky that the universe allowed our paths to cross and intertwine.