Alicia Graf Mack in Robert Garlan'ds "Return." Photo by Robert Garland, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

#TBT: Alicia Graf Mack with Dance Theatre of Harlem (2004)

Alicia Graf Mack has consistently defied just about every limitation and expectation throughout her dance career. She was a leading performer with three incredible companies: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, from which she retired in 2016, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. She also earned two college degrees in the midst of her performing career (from Columbia University and Washington University in St. Louis, no less) and has even written for Pointe, including our June/July 2014 cover story on Misty Copeland, Ebony Williams and Ashley Murphy. This week we're throwing it back to this wonder woman's 2004 performance of Robert Garland's Return with Dance Theatre of Harlem.


The piece begins in silence as Mack's lone silhouette slowly unfurls across the stage. Fellow DTH principal Donald Williams runs on to join her and the two twist and intertwine into elegant shapes. Mack rolls over Williams' back, unfurling her leg into an incredible second position split. As the lights come up, Aretha Franklin's "Baby, Baby, Baby" plays and the piece comes to life. Mack's extensions seem to defy the laws of physics and biology, and she completely commands the stage through her simultaneously articulate and expansive movement. Today, Mack continues to inspire tons of dancers as a visiting assistant professor at Webster University and through her dance collective D(n)A Arts. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

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