Celebrate. Educate. Inspire.
I grew up in Northern California in a multicultural home. I started dancing at age 3. There weren’t a lot of girls that looked like me. I joined Ronn Guidi’s Oakland Ballet when I was 12 with a dream of dancing with the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH). When I was 16, the company came to perform at the Geary Theatre in San Francisco and I wanted to meet them. My parents took me to the theatre and I boldly knocked on the stage door. Before I knew it, I was onstage taking morning ballet class with the company. After a week of joining them for classes, Arthur Mitchell asked me to come to New York and join the company as an apprentice.
I would go on to find my dance home at DTH in New York City. I danced with the company for 22 years and owe my parents a lot for their undying support to make my dream come true. As a principal ballerina, I traveled the world and demonstrated the beauty of ballet with no boundaries through our performances, activities, and community outreach.
After retiring from being a principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), I became the archivist and exhibition curator. I used artifacts from the archive such as costumes, photographs and sets to create an exhibit that toured around the country, Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts. I also worked on the DTH exhibit installed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. I’m currently finishing a beautiful book, Dance Theatre of Harlem: A History, A Movement, A Celebration, rich with photos and the history of DTH, that will be available in the Fall of 2021.
My experience at DTH showed me that memorializing history can turn into something far more powerful – the ability to celebrate, educate and inspire.
The long hours involved in creating these wonderful exhibits made me think about how to make it easier – not just for big projects but for everyday marketing, fundraising and historical preservation needs. Thus, ChromaDiverse was born.
–Judy Tyrus, Founder