Dance Theatre Of Harlem’s 55th Anniversary Season: A Celebration Of Artistry And Innovation

March 22, 2024

In the vibrant world of Dance Theatre of Harlem, founder Arthur Mitchell, anticipation for its annual home season isn’t solely about the lineup of performances.

Though the inclusion of another Balanchine masterpiece, the rarely performed Pas de Dix inspired by Raymonda, certainly raises excitement levels. What’s truly stirring the dance community is the appointment of the esteemed Robert Garland as the company’s new artistic director. With his rich history with the troupe and remarkable talent for infusing Black cultural expression into classical dance, Garland is a natural fit for the role.

To celebrate Garland’s new leadership, the season will showcase three of his remarkable choreographic creations, woven throughout four captivating programs. In “The Return,” set to the electrifying sounds of Aretha Franklin and James Brown, Garland seamlessly blends the infectious energy of Soul Train funk with the grace of ballet, offering a dynamic fusion that promises to captivate audiences. Meanwhile, “New Bach” pays homage to the intricate melodies and soul-stirring melancholy of Bach’s music, embracing its architectural beauty and tranquil serenity through elegant movement.

Adding to the allure is Garland’s recent piece, “Nyman String Quartet #2,” a nod to Balanchine’s iconic “Agon” but with a distinctive twist. Infused with a unique jazz flair, reminiscent of a laid-back hoofer’s rhythmic groove, this work explores themes of visibility and identity, with echoes of the Invisible Man’s struggle to be seen resonating through every nuanced movement.

As Dance Theatre of Harlem welcomes Robert Garland into his new role, audiences can expect a season brimming with innovation, artistry, and the rich tapestry of cultural expression that has defined this iconic institution for decades.

Photo credit: Dance Theatre of Harlem, Founder, Arthur Mitchell.

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