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World-renowned ‘Dance Theatre of Harlem’ makes its highly anticipated return to the New Orleans stage

Written by  New Orleans Ballet Association
The New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) presents the classically American Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) for the first time since 2001 on Saturday, November 21, at 8pm at the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts. Founded by pioneering artist Arthur Mitchell, the first African-American principal dancer with New York City Ballet, DTH has made a bold statement in the world of ballet and continues to break boundaries and transform lives. Under the helm of longtime DTH prima ballerina Virginia Johnson, this world-renowned ballet company makes its triumphant return with a bold and innovative program of new works and treasured classics.
 
The program opens with New Bach (1999) by DTH Resident Choreographer Robert Garland and set to music by J.S. Bach. The dynamism of New York City Ballet Founding Director George Balanchine’s neoclassical ballet was instilled in DTH by Mitchell, and Garland captures its essence with this large company work that showcases the fast-paced style infused with popular dance vernacular.
 
The program will also feature In the Mirror of Her Mind (2011) by former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer Christopher Huggins. This piece explores the journey of one woman as she reflects on the loves and losses of her lifetime. This beautiful quartet is “filled with sumptuous partnering executed with daring and precision.” (Out and About NYC)
 
The masterwork Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven (1993) was created by one of the most innovative contemporary choreographers of the past half-century, Ulysses Dove.  Set to the chimes and rich textures of Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, the piece is inspired by the loss of 13 of Dove’s close relatives and friends, including his father. In Dove’s own words, he set out to “tell an experience in movement, a story without words, and create a poetic monument over people I loved.”
 
Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Vessels (2014), set to music by Ezio Bosso, is a dynamic tour de force that draws on the energy and artistry of a new generation of DTH artists. “It’s as unfussy as it is lovely, a reminder that the human form is as powerful in stillness as it is in unbridled motion.” (Washington Post)
 
Dance Theatre of Harlem, considered “one of ballet's most exciting undertakings” (The New York Times, 1971) was founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook shortly after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mitchell was determined to start a school that would offer young children the opportunity to learn about dance and the allied arts, especially for those in the Harlem community where he was raised.
 
“Arthur Mitchell’s dream was always about creating opportunities and showing that it was not just about black dancers ‘fitting in,’ but demonstrating that we had something to bring to the stage as individuals,” says DTH Artistic Director Virginia Johnson.
 
Forty-six years later, this acclaimed multicultural dance institution continues an extraordinary legacy of providing opportunities for creative expression and artistic excellence. The company tours nationally and internationally with an eclectic and demanding repertoire. Arts education and community engagement have always been a key component of the DTH mission. The Dance Theatre of Harlem School trains more than 500 young people per year in winter and summer sessions, from pre-ballet to professional students. The company engages communities on tour and in the New York metropolitan area through Dancing Through Barriers, a comprehensive arts education platform that provides access to the life-changing power of the arts.
 
Tickets for Dance Theatre of Harlem range from $24 to $129 and can be purchased through the New Orleans Ballet Association Box Office at (504) 522-0996 or www.NOBAdance.com, and through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com. Subscriptions for NOBA’s 2015-16 season and discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more, students and seniors are available.
 
DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM IN THE COMMUNITY
Thursday, November 19, 10:30am-noon at The Chevron Studio, Lyons NORDC Center
Free master class by DTH Resident Choreographer Robert Garland for intermediate/advanced dancers ages 14 and up. Registration will be held at the door beginning at 10am, and the class is filled first come, first served.
 
Friday, November 20, 10AM at Mahalia Jackson Theater*
Lecture/demonstration for K-12 students
Tickets are $5 for school groups, and advance reservations are required.

Friday, November 20, 7PM at Cook Auditorium, Dillard University campus*
In partnership with Dillard University, NOBA presents a lecture led by university President Walter Kimbrough and DTH Artistic Director Virginia Johnson about the legacy of DTH, including performance and archival video/photography.
 
*Guest artists at the November 20 events taking place at Mahalia Jackson Theatre and Dillard University include advanced, local students ages 15-18 of the nationally award-winning NORDC/NOBA Center for Dance, a 23-year partnership of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDDC) and NOBA that provides year-round tuition-free instruction to 1,750 participants ages 3-80+ at eight NORDC Centers and Tulane University. The performances culminate a five-month residency of weekly technique training with DTH artists Kellye Saunders and Donald Williams, and choreography workshops by Garland, whose works the students will perform alongside the DTH dancers.
 
“In collaboration with NOBA, I get to combine my two loves – the DTH Company and young people,” says Garland. “This unique opportunity is what DTH is all about – providing access and opportunity through experiences that engage youngsters in the art form of dance as a performer or audience member. What a winning combination!” This residency is made possible by the Chevron Master Artist Series, through which local youth receive unprecedented opportunities to train and perform with some of the top names in the dance world. Past engagements have included Parsons Dance, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Limon Dance Company, Ballet Hispanico and more.
 
Dance Theatre of Harlem is sponsored by Entergy and Chevron. Hotel accommodations are provided by Sheraton New Orleans Hotel.
 
About New Orleans Ballet Association
NOBA is the Central Gulf region’s premiere presenting and service organization dedicated solely to the art of dance.  NOBA’s dynamic Main Stage season annually features a diverse array of world-class companies and artists.  Each year NOBA provides concerts, classes, workshops and lectures to more than 30,000 area dance enthusiasts of all ages.  In addition, NOBA’s nationally recognized award-winning education programs provide the youth of our community access to quality arts programs with over 5,500 free dance classes and workshops annually at ten sites throughout the Greater New Orleans area. 

NOBA is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA); a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and the NEA, a Federal agency; a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans and administered by the Arts Council New Orleans (ACNO); and a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered through ACNO. 
Last modified on Tuesday, 20 October 2015
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