by Ebonie Johnson Cooper
Words cannot describe the energy and emotion that still fills me up from last night’s Opening Night for the return of The Dance Theatre of Harlem Company. It has been nine years since The Company has graced a stage. Definitely nine years too long.
With leading philanthropic support from the Ford Foundation, leadership of the Board of Directors (which my old boss and family friend serves as its Vice Chair. Go Mike!), and support of donors, friends and the staff, The Company stepped onto the stage last night and blew everyone away. As I sat there watching with my mother, I couldn’t help but remember my own training at DTH and The Harlem School of The Arts and what could have become of my 15 years of ballet training. #fail. I digress.
The Dance Theatre of Harlem for many, including me, is more than just the premiere dance school for black ballet dancers, it is a symbol of cultural and artistic hope. It’s not often you see a stage filled with ballet dancers of color- dark, rich color at that. Ballet was never an artistic dance form we were supposed to be a part of. For some, “classical ballet celebrates pale princesses and fair swans.” This traditional ballet point of view and the costly rigors of ballet training keep far too many black girls away from the art form. Yet the magic of the DTH Company reveals the beautiful reality that ballet is for us too.
The return of The Dance Theatre of Harlem Company is a win for DTH, the Harlem community, the International dance community and most importantly, every little black girl who dreams of being a ballerina. She now knows she can too.
Here are pictures from last night with me, TJC (my mom), company members, DTH Board members and staff. Enjoy!