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First Lady, Yvette Bing


Jo Coleman

Jennifer Fischer

Cynthia Ford

Kim Reuss


Betty Brooks

Serena Cockrell

Peggy Daitch

Retha Douglas

Linda Forte

Mary Anne Gargaro

Sharon James

Marion Jones

Florine Mark

Sharon Madison Polk

Vivian Pickard

Sandra E. Pierce

Glenda Price, Ph.D.

Suzanne Shank

Lorna Thomas, M.D.

Roberta Hughes Wright, Ph.D.

Dance Theatre of Harlem has made history in the 40 years since Arthur Mitchell and the late Karel Shook founded the company in 1969. This multimedia exhibit captures the majesty of the choreography, the beauty of the costuming, the dancers who defied gravity and stereotyping, and Mitchell's wide-ranging accomplishments. Focusing on the discipline of dance, he brought ballet to Harlem and Dance Theatre of Harlem evolved from a school with educational programs and professional training into a world-class touring company as its artists became powerful ambassadors for all of America. In 2009, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center and Dance Theatre of Harlem exhibited the company's rare costumes, photos and other memorabilia. The California African American Museum has supplemented the exhibit with the staging of costumes and video from four iconic ballets and adding life-sized banners and other imagery to illuminate the 40 years of history during which Dance Theatre of Harlem and Arthur Mitchell have received over 300 official citations for excellence.

The Exhibition is a project of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dance Theatre of Harlem and the California African American Museum. The Exhibition was originally developed by The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and Dance Theatre of Harlem, and subsequently expanded and organized for touring in collaboration with the California African American Museum. Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts is sponsored locally by the General Motors Foundation.



Watch this video of the exhibition from its run at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts:



Exhibition Sponsor

GM Foundation