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Dance Theatre of Harlem

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Product Details

  • Actors: Virginia E. Johnson, Eddie J. Shellman, Lowell D. Smith, Yanna Kroyt-Brandt, Dance Theatre of Harlem
  • Directors: Thomas Grimm
  • Format: Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 17, 2000
  • Run Time: 59 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004Y7HM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,630 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Dance Theatre of Harlem, America's first outstanding classical ballet company of black dancers, started out as a ghetto experiment which quickly reached world-class level. It was created by Arthur Mitchell, a School of American Ballet student who had broken through ballet's color barrier by becoming the first black dancer to join an internationally renowned company, the New York City Ballet. In this special studio production, the Dance Theatre of Harlem performs a selection of its most popular works: choreographer Robert North's "Troy Game," Lester Horton's "The Beloved" and Arthur Mitchell's "John Henry." The pieces are introduced by Arthur Mitchell and Robert North.


The Dance Theatre of Harlem has long since entered the history books as the world's foremost black classical ballet company, founded in 1969 by School of American Ballet graduate Arthur Mitchell. In 1989, RM Arts and Danmarks Radio produced a studio repertoire of four of the company's most popular works, encapsulating the extraordinary mixture of grace and physicality that have captivated audiences globally. Quite possibly, too, they have attracted and inspired a different audience, one for whom the traditional trappings of classical ballet--tutus and tights--hold little appeal.

Take "Troy Game," a short piece for six male dancers who tumble, fight, swagger, jostle, and play in a joyful, gladiatorial celebration of male muscularity. It's ironic, sometimes challenging, and very funny. Or take "John Henry," an interpretation of the life of the legendary factory worker who resisted the increased automation of the steel industry but wore himself out in the process. These are ballets that draw heavily on folklore to create tension that is almost tangible. "Fall River Legend" is a reworking of the Lizzie Borden story (choreography by Agnes de Mille), and "The Beloved" is based on the story of an overzealous minister who throttles his wife over a Bible. It seems invidious to pick out individual artists, but Virginia Johnson as Lizzie and Eddie J. Shellman as John Henry embody the dramatic, character-driven dancing that is the foundation of the Dance Theatre of Harlem's reputation: exhilarating and compelling. --Piers Ford, Amazon.co.uk

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. M WILINSKY VINE VOICE on September 3, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Dance Theatre of Harlem, founded by Arthur Mitchell AND George Balanchine, is a first rate ballet company and this dvd offers a nice, varied sample of their large body of work, only a small portion of which is available on video(please see my review for "Fall River Legend" for more information on DTH). "Troy Game" and "The Beloved" are exquisitely choreographed modern dance pieces and "John Henry" is a light hearted folk piece choreographed by Arthur Mitchell and the input of the dancers themselves(this bit of information comes from what cast members have told me). The DTH dancers are all clasically trained(in those days by Arthur Mitchell and George Balanchine himself) and this is quite evident in their dancing. This production was done in Denmark and is absolutely first rate in quality, from set design to music.
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2 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jack Kirven on March 26, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
so, i fully acknowledge the historical importance of this company -- arthur miller did something completely revolutionary in his day, and i give him full props for that, but sometimes i think the quality of the actual choreography for this company is not so impressive(but i think that about alvin ailey too)... it seems that these two companies rely very heavily on the masterpieces that made them big, but that they don't always continue to make equally challenging work later. this dvd isn't terribly interesting or well-produced, but it is still valuable for its historical content. i recommend it, but not highly, to those interested in dance history, but i warn you that the work is dated and not very challenging to a more accomplished viewer.
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7 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 13, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I think there is a need for "YOUNGER" dancers. The dramatization of the roles is way over acted. There needs to be more concintration on the technical part and less on the "ACTING". This will enable to be rise to the level of the other classical ballet companies.
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