“You are not a line, not a phrase, not a paragraph, not a page….but a chapter in history.”
– Arthur Mitchell
Dance Theatre of Harlem: A History, A Movement, A Celebration is one of five books nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literary Work Nonfiction!
How It Happened
In 1969, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook founded Dance Theatre of Harlem as a haven for dancers of all colors and backgrounds. Over the past five decades, the Company has traveled the world creating timeless works that challenge Eurocentric mainstream ballet head-on while examining ongoing issues of power, beauty, myth, and the ever-changing definition of art itself. Their groundbreaking vision for dance fueled DTH’s growth into one of the most influential and revolutionary American ballet Companies in modern history.
Authors, Judy Tyrus and Paul Novosel, created a powerful historical narrative that is both gorgeous and educational. Through exclusive backstage stories, unprecedented access to DTH’s archives, and with nearly 300 exclusive photographs, they have traced the Company’s origins from in a Harlem basement to its activism and to its innovative virtual performances throughout the global pandemic of 2020.
This book is a celebration and popular history of Dance Theatre of Harlem as a dance movement in whose orbit stood supporters such as George Balanchine, Stevie Wonder, Misty Copeland, and Cicely Tyson—quintessential dancers Lowell Smith, Stephanie Dabney, Ingrid Silva, Derek Brockington, Da’ Von Doane and Ashley Murphy—and certainly DTH’s founders Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook. Alive with stunning photographs, including many from the legendary Marbeth and Martha Swope, this incomparable book is at home on a coffee table as well as a library bookshelf for any lover of history, art, or classical ballet.
- Chapter 1: Arthur Mitchell Chapter
- Chapter 2: Karel Shook Chapter
- Chapter 3: Birth of a School Chapter
- Chapter 4: Beginnings: The Seasons 1968-1971 Chapter
- Chapter 5: Pink Tights in Black Tea: The Seasons 1972-1976
- Chapter 6: World Stature: The Seasons 1977-1985 Chapter
- Chapter 7: Riding the Wave: The Seasons 1986-1996
- Chapter 8: Toward a New Millennium: The Seasons 1997-2004
- Chapter 9: Emergence: The Seasons 2005-2010
- Chapter 10: A New Company: The Seasons 2011-2015
- Chapter 11: Evolution: The Seasons 2016-2020
- Postscript: A Flourish Afterword by Karel Shook
- Afterword by Karel Shook
- (304 pages. Published by Dafina, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp.)
About the Authors
Judy Tyrus, a principal with Dance Theatre of Harlem for twenty-two years, performed leading roles in ballets at venues throughout the world including London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, The Metropolitan Opera and The Kennedy Center. Since retiring from dance, she continued her work in the industry as a professor of dance, an archivist and an exhibition specialist. She curated the Dance Theatre of Harlem exhibit, “Theatrical Dance” at the National Museum of African American History and Culture at The Smithsonian. She is the co-founder and CEO of ChromaDiverse Incorporated, a non-profit corporation which promotes diversity in the performing arts. Tyrus received the Society of American Archivists Diversity Award for 2021. She resides in San Francisco, California.
Paul Novosel has had a forty-year career as a pianist, organist, playwright, and composer. He graduated summa cum laude as a music composition student of John Corigliano, and as a dramatist student of Broadway’s William Hoffman. Receiving his MA in music from The University of Limerick, Ireland, he has studied writing on music, and penned musicological and program notes. He has garnered awards and nominations, and performed as a keyboardist in major venues throughout the United States and Europe, including Carnegie Hall. With Judy Tyrus, he co-founded ChromaDiverse, Inc. He has served as assistant archivist and staff pianist at Dance Theatre of Harlem, and lives in New York City.
“We authored this book for the DTH fan, the dancer, the academic, those who love ballet, and those who simply want to know the miraculous story. It is indeed a story of survival.”
“A bounty of luscious photographs celebrates the technical, dramatic, and artistic abilities of the dancers up and down the decades … This book is a gift for ballet lovers … essential to understanding the ongoing issue of Blacks in ballet.”
“To crack the spine of DANCE THEATER OF HARLEM is to swing the door open on a troupe that has transformed the artistic landscape across the planet. As a longtime fan, getting behind that velvet curtain—reading the stories of those choreographers and dancer revolutionaries—is a transforming journey.”