Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Michaela DePrince as the Black SwanOn Wednesday, Dance Theatre of Harlem returns to the New York City stage after a nine-year hiatus. Co-founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell (New York City Ballet’s first African-American dancer) and his former teacher Karel Shook, DTH broke barriers by offering black dancers careers in classical ballet. In 2004, the professional company was forced to disband for financial reasons, but DTH continued its education and outreach through the school’s DTH Ensemble, which presents lecture-demonstrations at K–12 schools and universities.
Now, after drawing dancers from the Ensemble and a nationwide audition tour, the company is back. Among the ranks of the new DTH is Michaela DePrince, a former JKO School student who was featured in the documentary First Position addressing the struggles of being a black dancer in pursuit of a ballet career. DePrince will perform the role of the Black Swan in the Swan Lake Act III pas de deux on opening night of DTH’s season at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Photo by Rachel Neville, courtesy of Dance Theatre of Harlem