Dance Theatre of Harlem set to perform

ALBANY -- The Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble, a world-class dance company, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Albany Municipal Auditorium as part of Albany State University Fine Arts Department's Lyceum Performance Series.

"The DTH Ensemble's performance in Albany will expose Southwest Georgia citizens of all ethnicities, ages and from all economic strata to the art of dance by an internationally acclaimed dance company," said Dr. Leroy Bynum Jr., dean of the ASU College of Arts and Humanities.

The dance company's beginnings go back to 1955 when Arthur Mitchell, an African-American ballet dancer, made history as he began his 15-year tenure as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. He was the first African-American dancer to accomplish that.

Mitchell later began teaching dance classes in a garage on 152nd Street in Harlem, the community in New York City where he grew up. In 1969, Mitchell partnered with Karell Shook, one of the most influential dance instructors of the 20th century, to open the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Inspired by the efforts of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders of the Civil Rights Era, the two wanted to make the art of dance available to the Harlem community and the rest of New York City.

ASU officials say the performance is interactive with the audience, which will get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to become a dancer. The event ends with an opportunity for audience members to ask the dancers questions.

Tyshiba Maxie, owner of Uptown Dance Studio in Albany and a coordinator of the event, said the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble's performance is the "opportunity to experience a first-class performance that truly depicts the cultural evolution of formal dance."

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, the ensemble will conduct a free lecture/demonstration for local dance students.

"Local dance students are extremely excited and anxiously anticipate the arrival of the DTHE," Maxie said. "Students definitely feel this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and look forward to the lecture and demonstration portion of the event just as much as the actual performance. Students are eager to learn the path dancers of the DTHE took to perform at their level."

She said the performance is not just for those who are dancers themselves.

"Non-dancers can gain an appreciation for the arts in general," Maxie said. "The performance is famous for its exciting depictions of the Civil Rights Movement, social issues, education and collaboration of various forms of the arts."

The National Endowment for the Arts awarded ASU a $10,000 grant to help finance the ensemble's performance. Tickets for the performance, which range in cost from $5 to $20, are available at the Albany Civic Center Box Office and online through Ticketmaster.

For more information about the performance or lecture/demonstration, contact the ASU Department of Fine Arts at (229) 430-4849 or (229) 430-4832.