In 1955, something miraculous happened that would change the world of dance forever, and help shape race relations in the theatrical world. Arthur Mitchell, a Harlem native and African-American ballet dancer, was selected by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein to join the New York City Ballet. This historic occurrence in pre-Civil Rights America set the stage for many firsts by Mitchell, which changed the face and future of dance forever.
Shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Mitchell and Karel Shook, the first teacher and ballet master of the Dutch National Ballet founded the Dance Theater Of Harlem which upheld and nurtured the idealism of the Civil-Rights Era.
With a less than auspicious start in a garage in Harlem, Mitchell threw himself heart and soul into the school, making it his goal to give the children of Harlem the same opportunities he was blessed with, and that spirit still lives on in the institution today, training more than 1,000 students annually.
The Dance Theater of Harlem has since gone on to tour internationally, receive countless awards and acclaim and is still the benchmark of success among aspiring dancers all over the world. At home or abroad, DTH is met with sold-out performances and accolades. After successfully returning to the United Kingdom in 2002 and 2004, DTH celebrated its 35th Anniversary with an extensive U.S. tour, followed by performances in Greece prior to the opening of the 2004 summer Olympics, and now Fayetteville State University is pleased to host this inspirational dance company.
Dr. Earnest Lamb, chair of the Department of Performing and Fine Arts at FSU realizes the importance of the arts in Fayetteville. “One of the priorities of Fayetteville State University is to become the cultural and intellectual center for city and region. The Fine Arts Series at Fayetteville State University helps realize this priority by bringing nationally recognized talent to campus for the benefi t of the entire community. The university is pleased to be able to bring the Dance Theater of Harlem for the cultural enrichment of Fayetteville,” said Lamb.
Lamb encourages the community to take advantage of this unique opportunity to see one of the most recognized dance companies in the world, while at the same time supporting the Department of Performing and Fine Arts at FSU. All proceeds from tickets to the event will go directly back into the department for future performances.
A free lecture/demonstration for students will be held April 4 at 9:30 a.m. This presentation will give students a glimpse into the lives of the dancers from rehearsal to performance.
The Dance Theater of Harlem will perform an evening of classic ballets at Fayetteville State University on Sunday, April 3 at 6 p.m. in the J.W. Seabrook Auditorium. A silent auction will begin at 5 p.m. Tickets are $50 general admission, $70 VIP single reserved seating and $120 VIP couple with reserved seating. Children and students with identifi cation will be admitted for $35. Tickets are available through the FSU Box Offi ce at 910-672-1724 or www.etix.com.
For more information about the event including silent auction items, please visit the Opus I website: http://www.uncfsu.edu/fah/opus.htm.
For more information about the Department of Performing and Fine Arts, please visit www.uncfsu.edu/fah or call 910-672-2143.
PHOTO: Members of the Dance Theater of Harlem perform.