Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Event Slides Per Node 1415

Dance Theatre of Harlem
50th Anniversary Tour
Virginia Johnson, artistic director

7:30 pm Tuesday, November 12, 2019

For fifty years, Dance Theatre of Harlem has provided access to ballet for all. Comprised of an international touring company, a training school, and a celebrated arts education and community engagement program, Dance Theatre of Harlem demonstrates the power of art to transform lives.

The program is scheduled to include Valse Fantaisie (1953), choreographed by George Balanchine and danced to music by Mikhail Glinka; This Bitter Earth (2012), a pas de deux by Christopher Wheeldon, performed to a song composed by Max Richter and Clyde Otis and sung by Dinah Washington; Passage (2019), a ballet inspired by the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia, choreographed by Claudia Schreier, and set to music by Catalyst Quartet violinist and composer Jessie Montgomery; and Return (1999), the signature work of the company’s longtime resident choreographer Robert Garland, which is performed to a suite of songs sung by James Brown and Aretha Franklin.

Compelled to make a positive impact following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the legendary dancer Arthur Mitchell started a school with his teacher, Karel Shook. Mitchell’s idea was to offer children in the Harlem neighborhood, in which he grew up, the opportunity to change their futures by challenging themselves against the rigors of a classical art form. In 1971, only two years after its founding, The New York Times called Dance Theatre of Harlem “one of ballet’s most exciting undertakings.”

Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this season, the company has an extraordinary legacy based on thrilling performances and artistic excellence predicated on providing opportunity where none had existed. Through performance, training, and education, the impact of Dance Theatre of Harlem continues to be felt across the globe.

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Adult $48
University Park Student $20
18 and Younger $38

$5 of each Dance Theatre of Harlem ticket sold will support THON.

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Blake and Linda Gall

support provided by
Debra Lee Latta and Dr. Stanley E. Latta Endowment

Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support for engagement programming related to this performance.

This event is part of a season-long focus, The American Experience: Through an African-American Lens.

Artist Websites: 

Secondary Events on Each Event

Beauty, Identity, and Ballet in the Twenty-first Century
A Talk by Virginia Johnson
Dance Theatre of Harlem artistic director

12:00 pm Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium
Refreshments will be served before the talk, beginning at 11:30 a.m., in 103 Paterno Library (Mann Assembly Room)

Free and open to the public

This event is sponsored by the African American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies departments in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts.

America is at a crossroads. We are a plural nation holding on to distinctions of difference. Can the art form of ballet enable us to build a common future? Beauty is at the center of ballet as an art form, but is beauty a reflection of culture, or is there an elemental truth that transcends culture? This 45-minute talk includes a history of Dance Theatre of Harlem and is accompanied by PowerPoint slides.

Virginia Johnson is the artistic director of Dance Theatre of Harlem. She is a founding member and former principal dancer of the company. After retiring from performing, she founded Pointe magazine and served as its editor-in-chief from 2000–2009.

Artistic Viewpoints

6:30 pm Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Eisenhower Auditorium

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Dance Theatre of Harlem Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, will be offered one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.