The Dance Theatre of Harlem is an American professional ballet company and school based in Harlem, New York City. It was founded in 1969, at the height of the civil rights movement, by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook. On their website, Dajssi DaCosta Johnson says that “Their vision remains one of the most democratic in dance”. Inspired by it, Judy Tyrus and Paul Novosel has written a book, “Dance Theater in Harlem: A History, A Movement, A Celebration”. It traces the company’s history from its modest beginnings in a Harlem church basement to its meteoric rise to international fame. “… the Dance Theatre of Harlem ignited the world with one simple, still-revolutionary statement: All can do ballet. Into the 21st century, as the world, and the country, continue their historical struggles and triumphs, the story of this haven for dancers of all colors and backgrounds resonates more than ever. Here, for the first time, is the definitive portrait of the one-of-a-kind community dance company that reflected—and shaped—our times, and whose enduring principle continues to inspire the future”. Alive with stunning photographs, including many from the legendary Marbeth. A must-have for any lover of dance, art, culture, or history.

Click here to discover the book, and here to learn more about the company.

Diana Adams and Arthur Mitchell in Balanchine’s Agon, 1957 (Photo: Martha Swope, ©NYPL)


The young company c. 1969 ©Marbeth


The Company men in Robert North’s “Troy Game” (Photo: Martha Swope, ©NYPL)