Dance Theatre of Harlem Residency 2017 Overview


Founded in 1960 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, Dance Theatre of Harlem is known for its thrilling performances that challenge preconceived notions of traditional dance and bring new life to the art form of classical ballet. Honoring their historic focus on education, the company arrived in Indiana prepared to facilitate a residency across three of Indiana University’s campuses The final performance took place at IU Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 28.

Dance Theatre of Harlem’s residency began at the IU South Bend campus on Jan. 24. In Campus Auditorium in Northside Hall, the company’s ballet master Keith Saunders facilitated a lecture demonstration with company dancers that explored the art and science of ballet. Attendees were invited to provide feedback and ask questions as dancers demonstrated the mechanics of barre work, lifting, turning, and other movement techniques.

The lecture demonstration was followed by beginners masterclass for high school students led by company members as well as an advanced ballet masterclass for IU South Bend dance students led by Dance Theatre of Harlem’s artistic director, Virginia Johnson.

In total, more than 100 participants at IU South Bend had the opportunity to interact directly with the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

On Jan. 26, the company arrived at IUPUI for another day of residency activities. In the cavernous atrium of Campus Center, company members hosted a public event dubbed “Dancing in the Streets,” an informal street-style dance party where participants could learn a few new moves from the pros.

As the residency at IUPUI progressed, students had the opportunity to attend more advanced movement and athletic workshops, as well as attend a panel discussion with company dancers, facilitated by Virginia Johnson -- a founding member and principal dancer of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The panel explored a variety of topics including the challenges of professional dance, what makes classical ballet such a unique vocation, and the effect of good nutrition on performance.

On Friday, Jan. 27, Dance Theatre of Harlem hit the ground running at IU Bloomington. Several company members and ballet master Keith Saunders conducted a lecture demonstration on IU Auditorium’s stage. More than 200 students and community members were in attendance to observe, ask questions, and provide feedback.

Next door at the School of Public Health, the company’s other ballet master, Kellye Saunders, facilitated a masterclass for Contemporary Dance students while nearly 20 drawing students observed to enhance their 2D translations of the human form.

As the afternoon progressed students in Advanced Ballet engaged in a masterclass with Virginia Johnson, and the African American Dance Ensemble spent time practicing technique with company member Da’Von Doane.

On the Bloomington campus alone, more than 250 students and community members engaged directly with the company, with the number statewide nearing 460.

Saturday, Jan. 28, marked the company’s formal presentation on the Auditorium stage, performing a distinctive blend of cutting-edge new works and beloved masterpieces.

Dance Theatre of Harlem company members demonstrate the technical details of turning on pointe during the lecture demonstration at IU South Bend.

During the “Dancing in the Streets” event at IUPUI, the public was invited to join in on a street-style dance party in Campus Center.

As part of the residency at IUPUI, dancers engage in a panel discussion about their individual practices, nutrition, and the rigors of professional touring.

Ballet Master Kellye Saunders teaches a masterclass for Contemporary Dance students on the Bloomington campus while drawing students observe.