© 2010 Christopher Charles McDaniel

Back Where it All Began!

DTH Ensemble Dancer Danielle Thomas Backstage before South African Suite!

DTH Ensemble Dancer Danielle Thomas Backstage before South African Suite!

The Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble is currently the performing arm, and the face of the Dance Theatre of Harlem (For Now at least) We have been touring the country with our Interactive Programs and Lecture Demonstration performances since January of 2009. Having performed in cities from as close to home as New Jersey, to as far away as Los Angeles with many in between, we have seen many places, and have performed in many theatres. Of all the cities we’ve visited Memphis, Tennessee has been my personal favourite. Here is the journal entry I made last year on our way to Memphis.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble has been on tour since January, we’ve been to many places and I have learned a lot. DTH has always meant a lot to me growing up. Not that everything has always been wonderful but I have always found a reason to be happy there. As we travel to Memphis Tennessee I can’t help but think about DTH and why it was founded. Memphis is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. His death gave way to the institution that I am representing everyday on tour and at home in NY. His death brought urgency and determination to Mr. Mitchell’s dream. This trip is more than just another stop for me. I feel like this stop is one of the ones that I will cherish the most. Growing up in the school and hearing the history of DTH and how it was founded in response to Dr. Kings death, makes this trip all the more special to me. It’s making me realize what a great opportunity I’ve been given, and it makes me very appreciative.

When we made that trip last year we had a few days off, and were able to visit the Civil Rights museum. The Civil Rights Museum was build on the inside on the Lorraine Motel, which is where Dr. King was shot. The museum holds many valuable fragments of African American History. It even contains the very bus Ms. Rosa Parks road on, during the start of her iconic journey toward racial equality. Am I worthy to have experience such a life changing feat?

Last night we had our world premier of program C (Which will be performed at Jacob’s Pillow, minus on ballet). This was a new undertaking for us, as we were use to the “Interactive” performance where in, it was more informal, and we had lots of time between ballets, because our ballet master, spoke before each ballet, giving a brief (not always so brief lol…….) History of each piece and its choreographer. This program also included a Question and Answer session and an interactive segment where men from the audience were invited onstage to “Partner a Ballerina” This program was all together fun, challenging, annoying, and tedious. We did it for two years of touring, and finally performed a normal concert performance, last night.

‘Program C’ consists of Arthur Mitchell’s “Fete Noir”. Laveen Naidu and Augustus Van Heerden’s (with Mr. Mitchell) “South African Suite” Peter Pucci’s “Episode” and Ends with Robert Garland’s “New Bach” followed by “Mother Popcorn” from his ballet “Return”

This exemplified the perfect Dance Theatre of Harlem program. This program showcases the very eclectic repertoire that we have at DTH. Mr. Mitchell has always prided himself on making programs that had a classical ballet, an Ethnic ballet, a contemporary ballet and a Neo-Classical ballet. It was so wonderful to go back to the original DTH way. More over it was nice to go back to the original way. . . . . . Back Where it All Began, Memphis Tennessee.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble will performing it’s “Program C” (minus “Mother Popcorn”) in The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival June 23, 2010 – June 26, 2010 in the Doris Duke Theatre.

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