Ballet performers dance through iconic Harlem spots in viral video

The Dance Theatre of Harlem has taken a cue from the National Basketball Association (NBA) by holing up in a quarantine bubble at the Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in New York. A group of 15 dancers, a choreographer, artistic director and the production team committed to the lockdown so the dance company could continue creating projects. No one is allowed to leave and return until the isolation period is over at the end of October. 

“If we were back home in Harlem, the best-case scenario is that we are doing work 10 feet apart from one another and we’re wearing masks and that’s fine from sort of a basic training standpoint,” Anna Glass, the organization’s executive director, told the Associated Press. “But when it comes to actually honing your craft or doing something that resembles a rehearsing, it’s a contact sport.” 

One of the group’s efforts is a video entitled “Dancing Through Harlem” that went viral in August.

Ballet dancers twirled on pointe in a Harlem subway station, at Riverbank State Park, the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building and on City College’s campus to the sounds of New Bach, 3rd Movement.

Pandemic restrictions have strained the arts in New York, but this was one way to keep the Dance Theatre of Harlem busy. 

“This was another opportunity for us to, not only give them a creative outlet in creating this beautiful work, but also, frankly, employment,” Glass told the Associated Press. 

Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, to create a multicultural dance company that could address social justice issues.

If you enjoyed this story, you might also like reading about this 87-year-old dancer who empowers Black ballerinas in Philadelphia.

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