A landmark collaboration between Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Hopkins Center for the Arts kicks off in late June for the first of a three-summer residency. The groundbreaking ballet company joins the Hop following their 50th-anniversary season, which celebrated founders Arthur Mitchell, Karel Shook and decades of dance contributions by its choreographers and dancers.
The long-term partnership will provide time and space for collaborative, creative projects between the two organizations aimed at expanding learning opportunities in dance, supporting the inter-related practices of choreography and academic scholarship, and exploring how the arts can be powerful instigators of social change.
Since its inception, Dance Theatre of Harlem has been a model of inclusivity, and the company’s work at Dartmouth each summer will contribute to conversations on race, activism, and equity in the arts.
The company will use the 2020 summer for the artistic development of The Hazel Scott Project, a newly commissioned work initiated by the Washington, DC-based presenter, Washington Performing Arts, by choreographer Tiffany Rea-Fisher. This ballet, set to premiere in 2022, will honor the legacy of Hazel Scott, the Black piano virtuoso and Hollywood trailblazer who risked her life and career through outspoken civil rights activism. The project has provided the inspiration for a summer theater course co-taught by Monica White Ndounou (Associate Professor of Theater) and John Heginbotham (Director of the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble) that examines the interplay between arts and advocacy and challenges students to create dance as a tool for expanding historical understanding and social change.
Upon this announcement, Mary Lou Aleskie, Howard Gillman ’44 Director of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, said, “Last year, when we started exploring a collaboration between our institutions, the aim was a mutually supportive partnership that offered opportunities for interdisciplinary research and for our students to observe Dance Theatre of Harlem’s creative process. This does just that, while opening the door for us all to learn from each other’s histories. We are inspired to be a multi-year partner with DTH and to join in the artistic journey of the Hazel Scott Project. These long-term relationships that connect artistic disciplines with courses across the humanities and sciences make for deeper learning experiences and simultaneously shape our community.”
"From Arthur Mitchell's pioneering Creole Giselle to Dianne McIntyre's powerful and poignant ballet, Change, Dance Theatre of Harlem has utilized the art form of ballet not only as a tool for transformation, but also as a platform for social justice,” said Dance Theatre of Harlem Executive Director Anna Glass. "The Hazel Scott Project is a continuation of this important legacy. We are honored to have Dartmouth College not only as a partner in the development of new voices and new works in ballet, but also in the embracing of our vision for diversity, equity and inclusion. We look forward to integrating into the Dartmouth community and to exploring the depths of this exciting collaboration."
This summer, the Hop and DTH plan to present free, public panel discussions on the topics of ballet, activism and the legacy of Hazel Scott. DTH company members will also teach a series of virtual masterclasses open to the public. Details on these joint events will be announced over the next weeks as part of “Hop@Home.”