Stories of Lives Transformed
Hello my name is India Bradley and I am 15-years-old. I am part of the Cabriole Ensemble as well as the Professional Training Program at Dance Theatre of Harlem. Growing up right outside of Detroit, Michigan, I was often the only African American in ballet class and I didn't quite understand what it meant to want to be a ballerina and live in color. Seeing Dance Theatre of Harlem for the first time at eight-years-old was the best thing that could have happened to me because I discovered a whole new way of dance that I didn't know before. Though I still didn't know all about the significance in being an African American wanting to pursue a career as a ballerina, seeing Dance Theatre of Harlem gave eight-year-old me a comforting feeling that there were ballerina's out there that looked more like me.
I first came to Dance Theatre of Harlem when I was 13-years-old for the 2012 Summer Intensive. I remember taking my first class there and feeling so much warmth within the studios. At that moment I didn't exactly know why I felt the way I did, but now I know that it came from being in a studio filled with people not only of the same race as you, but artists who love you, who can relate to you, and who enjoy doing the same art form as you. I enjoyed this summer so much that I came back for the Summer Intensive in 2013. That summer I learned so many things about my body and just important lessons about life.
After these two summer experiences at Dance Theatre of Harlem, I gained so much knowledge about ballet. I became a technically better dancer, I gained strength, and I also learned how to perform. Currently I am spending six days a week here at Dance Theatre of Harlem focusing on my training and my strength as a dancer. I couldn't ask for a more family-like place to get this level of training from.
Carol Crawford Smith
The year is 1978. The month is August. I just completed the open house performance at the end of the DTH six weeks summer intensive. Arthur Mitchell, Karel Shook, Richard Gonsalves (company manager), Shirley Mills (School Registrar and sister of Mr. Mitchell), and a host of friends, supporters and employees of DTH were at the performance. The presentation over, I am in the dressing room with my buddies, Joselli Audain, Charmaine Hunter and Terri Tompkins. While dressing, there is an announcement over the intercom for dancers to return to Studio III. My name was called among the group. I made it from the basement to the top floor in record speed. Waiting in the studio was Ms. Mills with the news that those called were invited to return in the fall to study with the company. This was the most exciting news! We were given details of correspondence to expect in the coming weeks and were sent on our way. On the way home in the car with my parents, I began weeping tears of joy and relief because the summer intensive was over, and I was invited to return as a company apprentice! In between sniffles and tears, I heard other sobbing, then looked in the rear view mirror and saw tears streaming down my father's face. As I reminisce, I realize my news and achievement hit him as if he had achieved it too. In essence, he had because it was his inquiring, research, and support that lead me to Dance Theatre of Harlem in the first place.
Carol Crawford Smith is an alumni of Dance Theatre of Harlem (1978-1988). She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marymount Manhattan College (Graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1991; Studio Art/Art History) and a Master of Science degree from Virginia Tech (Graduated in 2003; Human Development). She is Founder and Artistic Director of The Center of Dance in Blacksburg, VA (Established 1994).
Jalen Tyler Daniels
I am a 7th grader at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School. My mom brought me to DTH when I was 7 years old. I had studied at other schools, but didn't like being the only person of color my ballet classes. Dance Theatre of Harlem was this amazing new place where most of the students and teachers looked like me. Because I come from a mixed raced family where my mom is Filipino and my dad is African American, it's sometime hard to fit in. Not so at Dance Theatre of Harlem. My classmates are as diverse as my teachers and that makes me feel right at home. DTH is like family to me now. My little sister participates in the summer intensive and my little brother wants to take tap classes on Saturdays.
When I grow up I want to be a writer, a dancer and possibly a singer as well. For me, writing is the same as dancing. When you write, you have emotion, action and feeling in words. When you dance you have those same things, but it is through movement. You write in a language and dance is a language. It may sound strange to you, but I really don't see much difference in the two. And that is another reason why DTH is so great, because they teach you to appreciate music, dance, literature, art and theater. I have also become more focused and disciplined through my training and that helps me with my school subjects.
Dance Theatre of Harlem is my home and my family.
I am a freshman at Julliard and a recent graduate of Talented Unlimited High School. My journey with Dance Theatre of Harlem started three summers ago when a friend of mine convinced me to audition for their summer program. I got accepted, received a scholarship and made my way from Atlanta to the Big Apple. The program was challenging and ultimately life changing. I returned to Atlanta thrilled about DTH and convinced my mom to relocate to New York City so that I could pursue my training.
Captivated by the history of Dance Theatre of Harlem, I was inspired by the life of its founder, Mr. Arthur Mitchell, who beat the odds to become the first African American principal dancer with a major ballet company in America. I could relate with Mr. Mitchell who too came from a family of modest means and had to grow up without a strong father figure in his life.
As an aspiring classical dancer, Dance Theatre of Harlem is a great place to study. The teachers and staff care about you and show it by the way they push you in class and how they greet you with respect outside of class.
I would not be where I am today were it not for the training, coaching and mentoring from the DTH faculty. My immediate goal is to take advantage of every opportunity that Julliard has to offer and become a member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company. Eventually, I hope to develop into one of the greatest dancers ever and to establish my own dance company one day. If Mr. Mitchell could do it, so can I.
Fabian Barnes Videohttp://www.dancetheatreofharlem.org/40StoriesVideo
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