Ballet has been excluding black women since the industry of dance on stage began, therefore to serve as a beacon of strength we turn to Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem to illuminate what this experience of constantly pushing boundaries, claiming spaces and maintaining momentum looks and feels like.
The panel addresses DTH’s legacy, it’s cultural currency and the various personal struggles and triumphs that come with operating within and beyond the ballet studio. This talk is to be presented as a program within the new transdisciplinary Africana Institute for Creativity, Recognition and Elevation (AICRE), which sets its agenda for research based on revealing new knowledge as relates to pioneering work of African people on the continent and the Diaspora.
Virginia Johnson returns to Dance Theatre of Harlem as Artistic Director having been a founding member and principal dancer. During her 28 years with the company she performed most of the repertoire, with principal roles in Concerto Barocco, Allegro Brillante, Agon, A Streetcar Named Desire, Fall River Legend, Swan Lake, Giselle, Voluntaries, Les Biches among others. After retiring from performing, she founded POINTE magazine and was editor-in-chief from 2000-2009
Christina Johnson’s 25-year performing career spans both the United States and Europe. Her repertoire includes classical, neo-classical and contemporary works by renowned choreographers. Beyond her performance career she has been a sought after teacher and coach and has held the position of Rehearsal Director for five companies.
Endalyn Taylor joined Dance Theatre of Harlem’s company in 1984 and became a principal in 1993. Ms. Taylor’s roles include Myrta and Peasant Pas in Giselle, Corsaire Pas de Deux, Flower Festival in Genzano, Alonzo Kings’ Ground and Signs and Wonder, Dougla, Serenade, Agon, Four Temperaments, among many others. Ms. Taylor was the Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem School where she taught, choreographed and staged numerous works on students in the Professional Training Program and the entire student body and, in 2010 was invited to bring ten of her students to the White House to participate in a new arts initiative of the Obama’s.
Stephanie Powell is a California native and a tenured Professor of Dance at Long Beach City College in Southern California. Ms. Powell received her B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley in Sociology and Education and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance with distinction from the University of California at Irvine as a Chancellor’s Fellow, where she was honored with the Celebration of Teaching Award and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. She danced professionally and toured internationally with major dance companies such as the Oakland Ballet Company, the San Francisco Opera, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, Donald Byrd/The Group, Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Ms. Powell is the principal interpreter of the choreographic works for the legendary choreographer Donald McKayle, staging his work around the world.