Dance Theatre of Harlem was co-founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and the late Karel Shook. Arthur Mitchell undertook the endeavor as his personal commitment to the people of Harlem following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now 32 years later, Dance Theatre of Harlem is widely acclaimed as a major cultural institution encompassing a world-class ballet company, an accredited school of dance, the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, and a national and international arts education and community outreach program, Dancing Through Barriers®. Each component is committed to enriching the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds through the art of dance.
Beginning as "one of ballet's most exciting undertakings" (The New York Times, 1971), Dance Theatre of Harlem has grown into a world renowned, multicultural, neoclassical ballet company with an eclectic repertoire of 125 works. From Petipa to Balanchine, from pure dance to powerful dance dramas, from crystalline neoclassicism to vivid works inspired by the African Diaspora, DTH performances have thrilled audiences and set box-office records the world over.
Among the highlights of DTH's early international acclaim were command performances for European royalty and historic engagements at London's Sadler's Wells Theatre, Coliseum, and Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. In 1988, Dance Theatre of Harlem was the first American ballet company to perform in the then Soviet Union as part of the US/USSR Cultural Exchange Initiative. This landmark five-week tour sold out in Moscow, Tbilisi and Leningrad, where the company received a rare standing ovation at the Kirov Theatre. While at the Kirov, Dance Theatre of Harlem was formally inducted into the Kirov Museum, thus becoming a part of the great legacy of dance in Russia.
In 1990, DTH made its first appearance on the African continent, performing at the National Cultural Center in Cairo, Egypt. Returning to Africa in 1992, Dance Theatre of Harlem undertook an unprecedented six-week tour of South Africa, performing to integrated, sold-out houses and positive critical acclaim. DTH was the first American company to perform in South Africa after a 30-year cultural ban was lifted.
Dance Theatre of Harlem has also performed at major arts centers throughout the United States—from New York's Lincoln Center to San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House, and at countless stops in between—the company has consistently brought audiences the very best in dance theater.
Countries around the world have experienced the power, passion and perfection that is DTH. Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Norway, Spain, Turkey and many others have hosted the company.
Some of Dance Theatre of Harlem's award winning television credits include American and European broadcasts of Valerie Bettis' A Streetcar Named Desire, and a special telecast of DTH's Creole Giselle, hosted by Bill Cosby. An ABC documentary, "Peter Jennings Reporting: From the Heart of Harlem" featured Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the company was showcased on CBS' "60 Minutes" in 1986 and 1999. DTH's production of Agnes deMille's Fall River Legend received a Cable Ace Award for Best Performing Arts Special. In 1997, the company's performance of Billy Wilson's Concerto in F during the Kennedy Center's 25th Anniversary Special was nominated for a Prime Time Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Programming - Performance. "Kennedy Center Tonight: Stravinsky's Firebird," choreographed by John Taras, was the recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award.