Editor's Letter: Reinventing the Ballerina

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Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives

What to Watch: Dance Theatre of Harlem Streams Its Historic "Creole Giselle" on June 6

In 1984, Dance Theatre of Harlem co-founder Arthur Mitchell took one of ballet oldest surviving ballets, Giselle, and gave it a uniquely American twist: He moved the ballet's setting from medieval Europe to an Afro-Creole community in 1840s Louisiana. The resulting production, Creole Giselle, featured an all-Black cast and was hailed by critics as a groundbreaking achievement. While the ballet hasn't been performed for quite some time, it was filmed for television in 1987, starring current DTH artistic director Virginia Johnson in the title role.

This weekend, we'll have a chance to witness this important work. On Saturday, June 6, at 8 pm EDT, the company will stream Creole Giselle on its Facebook page and YouTube channel as part of its DTH on Demand Virtual Ballet Series. And throughout the week, DTH is hosting preview events on its social media platforms with original cast members and current company artists.


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How to Support the Black Dance Community, Beyond Social Media

The dance community's response to the death of George Floyd was immediate and sweeping on social media. Dance artists, including Desmond Richardson and Martha Nichols, used their social platforms to make meaningful statements about racial inequality. Theresa Ruth Howard's leadership spurred ballet companies including Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre, and New York City Ballet to pledge #BalletRelevesForBlackLives. Among the most vocal supporters have been dance students, who continue to share the faces and gut-wrenching last words of Black men and women who have died in police custody on their Instagram feeds and Stories.

The work we're doing on social media as a community is important and necessary—and we should keep at it. But now, that momentum must also carry us into taking action. Because to be a true ally, action is required.

A responsible ally amplifies Black voices­­. They choose to listen rather than speak. And they willingly throw their support, and, if they can, their dollars, behind Black dancers and Black dance organizations. Here are some ways you can do your part.

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Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

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