UNCSA and Dance Theatre of Harlem Collaborate in a Multiyear Partnership
May 15, 2024

On April 9, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Dance Theatre of Harlem announced that the organizations have embarked on a multiyear partnership. As of this spring, UNCSA School of Dance students have had the opportunity to train alongside DTH artists in New York City, and DTH company members will perform and provide educational experiences for UNCSA dance students at the university’s campus in Winston-Salem. DTH will also give additional performances throughout North Carolina.

As stated in a press release from UNCSA, the goal of this partnership is “to elevate educational and professional opportunities for student dancers, and provide opportunities to revitalize iconic works from the DTH canon as well as co-curate new works and creative projects.”

As part of the partnership’s first phase, seven UNCSA students traveled to New York City over their spring break this March to train with DTH dancers and learn the choreography for John Taras’ 1982 Firebird—a production of great importance in the company’s history which has not seen the stage since 2004. Former DTH principals Charmaine Hunter and Donald Williams, who each performed the ballet’s principal roles of the Firebird and the Young Man, respectively, served as répétiteurs. UNCSA’s dancers performed that production April 25–27 as part of its Spring Dance program at North Carolina’s High Point Theatre, with live musical accompaniment by the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra. DTH company artists Alexandra Hutchinson and Derek Brockington danced the lead roles on opening night. 

Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima, courtesy UNSCA.

Going forward, Firebird will be featured in DTH’s repertoire, and UNCSA students will join the DTH corps de ballet as guest artists for select performances. In addition, the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra will record the Firebird score for future DTH performances on the university’s new label, UNCSA Media, and the School of Design & Production will re-create the ballet’s original backdrops in consultation with Leo Holder, son of the original designer, Geoffrey Holder. 

As the DTH–UNSCA partnership continues, further details on their future collaborative engagements will be announced.

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