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 Post subject: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2002 2:45 am 
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Preview of this company's visit to Sadlers Wells in The Observer.

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Once upon a time, Harlem, spelled with an extra a, was merely an obscure Dutch provincial town. But in the days when New York was still called New Amsterdam, room was found for a reincarnated Harlem on a bluff high above Central Park. Black refugees from the South began to congregate here after the Civil War; by the 1920s, Harlem was, as the novelist Carl Van Vechten called it, 'the gallery of this New York theatre', a segregated balcony from which a jazzy, jiving crowd looked down on 'the white world sitting below in the good seats'.
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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2002 6:45 am 
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Will I be bumping into anyone going to see this tommorrow evening?


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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2002 5:00 am 
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Sadly not me Emma. Here is a feature from tThe Times.

Quote:
ARTHUR MITCHELL DOESN’T so much enter a room as conquer it. The messianic energy that emanates from this 68-year-old former dancer is extraordinary, more befitting a preacher than an artistic director. But you can be sure that he has needed every ounce of that evangelistic zeal throughout the 30-year existence of his Dance Theatre of Harlem.
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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2002 3:45 am 
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Feature from The Independent.

Quote:
Nelson Mandela was partly responsible for the creation 10 years ago of one of the ballets that Dance Theatre of Harlem are now bringing to Britain. South African Suite was inspired by a tour the company made to South Africa in 1992. Its founder and director Arthur Mitchell had resisted an invitation for the DTH to go there while apartheid existed and was persuaded only by a telephone call from Mandela saying how much good they, and they alone, could do by their example of how his people could better themselves. Even then Mitchell laid down conditions: that they would not play to segregated audiences and must perform for children as well as adults.

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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2002 2:44 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Dance Theatre of Harlem
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian

There is nothing arbitrary about Dance Theatre of Harlem's decision to headline its return to London with a performance of George Balanchine's Four Temperaments. Although the world wants to celebrate the organisation as an iconic black ballet troupe, it is actually a vividly mixed-race company that resists being defined by colour and wants to be assessed within the ballet mainstream.

While the cast in Monday's performance were technically uneven, they did look collectively at home with the Four Temperaments. The women were the weakest element, lacking the insouciant poise and lethally powered feet of true Balanchine-bred ballerinas, but the engagingly idiosyncratic male soloists occupied the piece in confident style.

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Good intentions mostly pay off
By Clement Crisp for The Financial Times


After an absence - too long an absence - of 14 years, Dance Theatre of Harlem is returned to London for a week at Sadler's Wells. And, thanks to the generosity of Mellon Europe, to give dance classes and inspiration to 400 young people in London schools. What Balanchine dancer Arthur Mitchell - wonderful dancer with Balanchine - has fought for, and achieved, during more than three decades, is a democratisation and a demystification of ballet, initially for the black community in Harlem and then, by extension, for other ethnic groups. The company has ventured where few other classical troupes would dare, and, daring, has won. Here, sometimes wonderful, always well-intentioned, and occasionally incomprehensible, is ballet - undergoing certain mutations - but in the long run, ballet still, and well worth considering.

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Classical poise in a streetwise pose
by debra craine for The Times


THIS is Arthur Mitchell’s dream company. He set it up more than 30 years ago in an effort to give something back to the deprived New York community where he grew up. But he never meant for his Harlem enterprise to be indulged as a novelty from the black ghetto, and that it certainly isn’t.
What Dance Theatre of Harlem presents at Sadler’s Wells this week, its first visit to London in 14 years, is a world-class ballet company with a distinctive repertoire. It’s hip, recognisably American and plugged into the streets where it was born, yet it’s written in the centuries-old traditions of European classical dance.

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<small>[ 11-07-2002, 05:34: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2002 4:56 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I enjoyed Dance Theatre of Harlem’s first programme on Tuesday night and especially their powerful, clean dance style.

Their take on the fine choreography of Balanchine’s “Four Temperaments” was a delight with lots of attack and elegant and expressive performances. Eric Underwood in “Phlegmatic” and Andrea long in “Choleric” were both excellent.

Dwight Roeden’s “Twist” is in your face physicality and subtlety is not its strong point. I have to say that I gave myself up to the thrusting and unrelenting style, ably performed by some of DTH’s finest. This piece celebrating 30 years of the Company gives 11 dancers a chance to shine in duets and trios.

Robert Garland’s “New Bach” just never caught my attention. This exercise in neo-classicism with a few added wiggles underlined the problems that US choreographers face in a ballet landscape still dominated by Balanchine.

The full house enjoyed it all greatly and the dancers received a rapturous reception.

If you haven’t already booked you’re going to be unlucky I’m afraid as all performances are now sold out. If you are really keen to go, then ring the theatre on 020 7863 8000 to gauge the likelihood of returns on the night.

<small>[ 11-06-2002, 11:39: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2002 4:58 am 
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Leanne Codrington of Dance Theatre of Harlem was on BBC Radio 4’s “Midweek” chat show and was interviewed by Libby Purves. The main points discussed were:

- Leanne is a member of the Corps and is the only English dancer in the DTH.
- She dances in “The Four Temperaments” and due to the injury of one of the leading dancers was thrown into “Twist” [SOS - fiendishly difficult] on Tuesday night
- In “4 Temps” Leanne dances in “Choleric” and being a calm person has needed to learn from others to create the character necessary for the piece.
- She was in demand before the visit as the resident expert on London - where to shop etc.
- Dance caught her early and she danced under an RBS scheme from the age of 7. She attended White Lodge and found it a very good experience with opportunities to meet people like Ninette de Valois.
- She was spotted at a class by a representative from DTH and was invited to audition and offered a contract. [I guess that this was some time in the past year or so]
- Leanne commented that the English style has greater focus on emotion, whereas the US style has greater emphasis on technique, energy, more attack, less detail. She sometimes struggles to keep up.
- “Dougla” is based on a Caribbean wedding ceremony between peoples from African and Hindu cultures. Leanne plays the Woman in Green, who is lively and runs the whole thing.
- There was a discussion about the pain threshold for dancers and I was relieved to hear that dancing on pointe is not painful for her. However, she said that she would endure pain if she had to to get a chance like the one that came up in "Twist".

If this all seems a bit superficial with large gaps in the narrative, I'm afraid that this is par for the course on "Midweek", which is very much in chat-show lite mode.

<small>[ 11-06-2002, 06:26: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2002 2:42 am 
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Review in the Telegraph.

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Dance Theatre of Harlem has a heroic history. By bringing inner-city blacks to classical ballet, Arthur Mitchell - its founder in 1969 - was creating a social and aesthetic phenomenon. Black ballet dancers are now not so rare on the world stage (though ironically it is America's erstwhile enemy Cuba that has provided the world's dominant black stars).

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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2002 4:32 pm 
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Location: London, England
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Sadler’s Wells
New Bach, Twist, The Four Temperaments

Pure physical thrills and amazing discipline. Fantastic technique and assured performances. Tension, torsion, sinew and steel. That’s what’s on show from this legendary New York company.

Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and the late Karel Shook, bravely breaking new ground as the world’s first black ballet company. They stormed the classical canon while exploring the dancers’ own heritage with fusions of ballet and african dance.

The first programme presented at Sadler’s Wells dips into the neo-classical gene pool and owes plenty to the Russian-American stylings of Balanchine. Robert Garland’s opener ‘New Bach’ is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to that great choreographer accompanied by another great, JS Bach’s Violin Concerto in A Minor. It’s a fairly frivolous piece with jazzy quirks of hips and shoulders, wide eyes and knowing smiles. On another company this work could be weak, but the technique is impeccable, and the sharp placing and sky-high extensions give it substance.

The dancers have a chance to show their true colours (along with a fluorescent paint box of skimpy lyrca costumes) in Dwight Rhoden’s ‘Twist.’ The speed, strength and athleticism of the company is pushed to the limit, with the usual lyricism of classical steps cut by a jolting, robotic rhythm, giving the traditional poses a completely new feel. Male dancers bend and twist, hoist and spin their female partners as easily and unbelievably as playing with a Barbie doll. But despite the machine-like abilities of the dancers, the piece glows with passion and sexuality. There are seductive couples stalking the stage or engaged in power struggle and a real vibrancy on show.

The work is visually dazzling. This piece is awash with poster images, there are so many striking moments. The switch between classical steps and other more modern, sometimes street dance-ish shapes is not an issue, it’s all part of the same language. There’s barely time to take it all in; lightning pirouettes on one side of the stage, a blur of chainées towards the corner, some precision pointe work in the centre. It’s great to feel the energy onstage and marvel and the physical feats of the dancers – two very basic, but sometimes forgotten, instincts when watching dance.

The programme closes with a return to Balanchine, but this time it’s the genuine article. ‘The Four Temperaments’ is a real triumph. Anyone who thinks ballet is trite and saccharine sweet should see Dance Theatre of Harlem perform this. Hindemith’s piano music is an equal star of the show providing a backdrop of jazz inflections and neo-classical tics, and Balanchine’s choreography is exceptionally sympathetic to the music.
With effective simplicity, there is no set or flashy lighting, and the dancers wear practise dress black leotards for the women, the men in white t-shirts and black tights. This unfussy approach is reflected in the staging of the dance – there’s a equilibrium that’s very satisfying. In fact I found the whole thing surprisingly spellbinding, the company can easily engage and delight an audience.

The four temperaments of the title are the four elements that make up human character as supposed by Greek medicine. The dominance of one element defines an individual’s physical type, either melancholic, sanguinic, phlegmatic or choleric, and the dancers express these characteristics without descending into pantomime. There are serene and delicate moments contrasted with big physical statements and playful footwork, and all the time huge depths beneath the surface. It’s the dancers’ first real chance for individual expression, and there’s a real rapport between stage and auditorium.

Some say the Americans don’t know what to do post-ballet, resorting to cliché and pastiche or borrowing from Broadway. But judging from this performance, Dance Theatre of Harlem have the conviction and the talent to lead the way.


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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2002 7:01 am 
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Three more reviews of Dance Theatre of Harlem. Come back soon y'hear:

Fast and furious
Dance Theatre of Harlem return with glamour and elegance - and they also know how to kick ass. By Jann Parry in The Observer


In the 14 years since Arthur Mitchell's Dance Theatre of Harlem last performed in London, the dancers have grown in glamour. They always were exceptional; these days, though, they take their elegance for granted, with the confidence of performers who have sailed through every audition since they were kids. From the Sixties on, Mitchell led the fight for ballet to be taught in Harlem and other inner-city areas; now, after many battles, his company reaps the benefit of immaculately trained dancers.
Mitchell has trademarked their style as 'Classically American'.

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A twist in the tale
Dance Theatre of Harlem’s return to the UK is not a total success, says David Dougill in The Sunday Times


Time was when Dance Theatre of Harlem, America’s pioneering black classical dance company, was a regular visitor to London — the toast of the town. But then, while these Harlem globetrotters were travelling ever further, with landmark visits to the Soviet Union, South Africa and China, we got dropped from the schedule (problems getting suitable theatres).

So we were left with memories of those shining faces and personalities and lovely performances until last week, when the company returned for the first time in 14 years, selling out Sadler’s Wells and packing it with more black faces and cheers to match than you usually get at London dance performances.

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One we missed from earlier in the week:
The smack of firm direction
By Nadine Meisner in The Independent

After a 14-year absence from London, Dance Theatre of Harlem makes a welcome return. This is a company of widely differing individuals, but also one of fierce discipline. Clarity of shape and unity of ensemble matter hugely. When the company's founder, Arthur Mitchell, arrived on stage for the final bows, the assembled dancers seemed to snap into line with extra alertness, forming taut, serried lines of respectful uniformity.

As a principal dancer in Balanchine's New York City Ballet, Arthur Mitchell was the first African-American to find prominence in a leading classical company. So it is unsurprising that DTH's first programme in London should pay homage to Balanchinian classicism. Before "Mr Mitchell" (as he is reverentially known) made ballet relevant to the black community, "Mr B" had transformed ballet into an American art, with all the lean speed and easy modernity of a confident, youthful nation.

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<small>[ 11-10-2002, 08:02: Message edited by: PressUK ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2002 1:21 am 
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Dance Theatre of Harlem - programme 2
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian


While all the works in Dance Theatre of Harlem's first programme could have been danced by any other ballet company, those in its second feel as if they are the troupe's unique property. Not only do the choreography and music plug directly into traditions from the black diaspora, they couldn't be danced without the collective energy and elan that define this company's style.
Geoffrey Holder's Dougla (1974) displays its black heritage most overtly, showcasing the African and East Indian cultures of his native Trinidad. The work is a swirl of group dances, focused around a wedding ritual, which engage a panoply of carnival-coloured costumes, lighting and props.

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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2002 1:54 am 
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Colour-blind and classy
By Jenny Gilbert for The Independent

The shoes – they're what you notice first with Dance Theater of Harlem: the individually dyed satin toe-shoes. As the women, one by one, thread onto the stage from the wings in their opening number, you find yourself mentally checking through the spectrum of flesh tones on their feet. From paleish pink to deep mahogany, every possible skin colour is there.

It would be tidier, and more sound-bite-friendly, if Dance Theater of Harlem were a uniformly black ballet troupe. It might suit some people better if it expressed "the African-American experience" as the Alvin Ailey company aims to do. But ever since 1971, when the iconic ex-New York City Ballet star Arthur Mitchell felt driven by the death of Martin Luther King to found a ballet school in the deprived neighbourhood where he grew up, DTH has refused to be defined by colour. What is obvious from the repertoire it chose to bring for its first London visit in 15 years, is that it wants to be seen as mainstream.

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Dance Theatre of Harlem
by Debra Craine for The Times


THE feel-good factor was much in evidence in the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s second programme at Sadler’s Wells, the one which comes to the Lowry in Manchester tonight. This is a company that knows how to have a good time, and this is the programme for it. From Africa to the Caribbean and the United States, these three ballets are robust, spirited and, in their choice of subject matter, particularly close to DTH’s heart.
Dougla, first seen back in 1974, is the odd man out on the bill. Geoffrey Holder’s evocation of a mixed-race wedding in Trinidad — East Indian and African — now seems quaintly ethnic, its colourful rituals, throbbing rhythmic score and violent red sun the stuff of tourist excursions.

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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2002 2:26 am 
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Dance Theatre of Harlem - programme 2
By AC Grayling for Online Review London

Performances by the Dance Theatre of Harlem have an indelible signature: they are joyous, free-spirited, athletic, instinctively sexy, and beautiful to see. This remains true whether or not the choreography has distinction. Audiences expect a Harlem style, and the dancers respond; they seem to enjoy themselves hugely, and to pour everything into every moment they are on stage.

This reviewer saw the second programme of their week at Sadler's Wells, South African Suite with Caroline Rocher in the lead role, Dougla, and Return. The first was outstanding. The shapes and nuances of the wonderful South African traditions both of spontaneous and organised dance were worked into the narrative of sequences here, themselves the result of an evolution influenced by the Dance Theatre's visits to South Africa after the ending of the apartheid era.

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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2002 2:32 am 
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Dance Theater of Harlem @ The Lowry
By Kevin Bourke for Manchester online

YOU might reasonably say that expectations were high for the first performance in the northwest for nearly 30 years by the world-renowned Dance Theater Of Harlem.

But the actual event even outstripped expectations – this was a truly marvellous, heart-lifting show, rapturously received by the capacity crowd.

Dance Theater Of Harlem was founded in 1969 in the wake of the chaos following the assassination of Doctor Martin Luther King. Some years earlier, co-founder Arthur Mitchell (present last night, as he has been at almost every show since then) had already revolutionised the dance world by becoming the first African-American dancer in a major classical ballet company when he joined the New York City Ballet.

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 Post subject: Re: Dance Theatre of Harlem
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2002 7:45 am 
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Dance Theatre of Harlem
Sadler’s Wells Theatre
Friday 08/11/02
Mixed Programme II

After a 14 year long absence Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 2nd programme presented was
an especially lively affair. The evening opened with ‘South African Suite” a work that
was choreographed by August van Heerden, Laveen Naidu and Arthur Mitchell to music
played by the Soweto Sting Quartet. Through a series of duets, solos and group dances that combine classical vocabulary with African movements the piece reflects the many
facets of South African live. The score equally a combination of classical sounding tunes
and African drums is as vibrant as the dancer’s performance. I have rarely seen performers that seemed so much alive. Watching them appear on stage, the colour of their pointe and flat shoes perfectly matched to their individual skin tone, it was hard not to want to jump up and join in. Although very much a team effort, Caroline Rocher who
opened and closed the piece, the former by having what looked like an early morning
stretch, the latter by walking on all fours while on pointe, bringing to mind the long and
elegant limbs of a giraffe especially caught my eye.

‘Dougla’, choreography, music and costumes created by Geoffrey Holder in 1974 shows
us a Dougla wedding celebration in Trinidad. This swirl of colour contains a lot of
processions and group dances surrounding the wedding ceremony. The men came across
as very powerful again whereas the women seemed to be slightly restrained by their
elaborate costumes. Although fun to watch, on a couple of occasions Holder even sends
the male dancers cartwheeling across the stage, overall there was too strong a feel of
carnival about it for my taste

The evening closed with Robert Garland’s ‘Return’. Set to soul music by James Brown
and Aretha Franklin the choreography,fusing classical movements with jazz and disco
elements, beautifully shows off the artists’s abilities as well as their unique personalities. The piece is witty, sexy and funny and drew an enthusiastic response from
the audience. But then anyone would have been hard pressed not to be taken in by Donald Williams’s way of teasingly flirting with the audience.

This evening was one of the most enjoyable I have seen in the past months and I sincerely hope we will not have to wait for another 14 years before we get to see
Dance Theatre of Harlem in London again.


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