Mann's Black History Month Celebration Welcomes Dance Theatre of Harlem to Philadelphia
The Mann Center for the Performing Arts marks its second annual Black History Month celebration this week with two days of special performances and school visits featuring the iconic Dance Theatre of Harlem.
“For 43 years, the Dance Theatre of Harlem has been a globally acclaimed dance institution that is dedicated to training and presenting African American and other racially diverse artists, consistently setting the highest of standards for the performing arts world,” said Rhoda Blount, the Mann’s Director of Education and Community Engagement. “These artists are admired the world over, and the company’s history is profound. Its founders, the legendary Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, started the institution in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with the aim of transforming lives through access to the arts and education. I am so pleased that through the Mann’s Connecting Arts-N-Schools program, we can play a part in upholding that tradition,” she said.
According to Blount, the Dance Theatre of Harlem will be welcomed to town as the featured guests of the Mann’s Black History Celebration Soiree on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 6-8 p.m. at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts. The private reception will include a meet-and-greet session with the dancers as well as performances by two local groups, the Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble and Clef Club Youth Jazz Ensemble.
On the following day, Wednesday, Feb. 29, the Dance Theatre of Harlem will participate in the Mann’s Meet the Artist/Master Class Series with visits to three area schools. At the Girard Academic Music School, the company will present a lecture/demonstration/performance for 550 students in grades 5 through 12. That afternoon, the Dance Theatre of Harlem will conduct more intimate master classes for 30 students each at the Rock School for Dance Education and later at the Freedom Theatre, which will incorporate students from the University of the Arts, Temple University and Drexel University. The Freedom Theatre visit will feature the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s acclaimed artistic director, Virginia Johnson, who was a founding member and principal dancer during her 28 years with the group.