Dance Theatre of Harlem ends eight-year hiatus

admin | 1/25/2012, 8 a.m.

Auditions for new touring company in Miami to be held on Jan. 28th

Young dancers from around the state will converge on Miami this weekend with hopes of joining the internationally-acclaimed Dance Theatre of Harlem [DTH]. Auditions will be held for the DTHs touring company, which has been on an eight-year hiatus, this Saturday. Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, 63, will be joined by Endalyn Taylor, the schools director. On Sunday, they will be looking at young dancers interested in participating in the companys summer intensive program. Students will learn a range of techniques, from classical ballet to African dance in summer sessions in both New York City and Detroit. Johnson says shes excited about the companys rebirth. We know we will find some wonderful dancers in Miami and are ready to begin rebuilding our touring company, she said. We are looking for about 10 premium level dancers who can fulfill the requirements of classical dance technique and are seasoned performers. Auditions are taking place in Miami, New York City, San Francisco and Chicago. In 2004 we had 44 dancers in the touring company plus a truckload of scenery. Due to financial constraints, weve scaled down considerably. However, we are on track in terms of our five-year plan and when I was hired in January 2010, my primary task was to bring back the touring company. Here we are! Johnson recalls her early days of dance in the late 60s when she was told that she should focus on other forms of dance, rather than ballet, because of her color. Dance Theatre of Harlem will be 43-years-old on February 11th and we have a rich history, she said. Arthur Mitchell founded this company [1968] so that dancers who looked like me could become ballerinas. It was about the skills and talent of the dancer not their color. We are continuing that philosophy today. Far too often people expect Blacks to only do hip-hop but we can do a lot more. Our focus is to help our youth carve out a place in the world and to help them bring positive change to their lives. As to the long hiatus that the touring company has faced, Williams believes that better times are in store for Dance Theatre of Harlem. We have stabilized the organization and strengthened our board, staff and school, she said. Weve reached out to our funders and are coming back with a more sustainable touring company. We may be a bit smaller than in the past but well be just as good if not better. Visit their website at www.dancetheatreofharlem.org for more information about auditions or the company. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com