Dance Theater of Harlem Opening Night Was Magical and Mesmerizing

Dance Theater of Harlem Opening Night Was Magical and Mesmerizing

DTH Company Artists in Nyman String Quartet No. 2. Photo by Steven Pisano

By Lyndon Taylor

The opening night performance of Dance Theater of Harlem (DTH) on April 11, at New York City Center was truly magnificent, a testament to the sheer brilliance and boundless talent of Black dancers in the world of ballet. Under the visionary guidance of newly named Artistic Director Robert Garland, the evening unfolded as a mesmerizing tapestry of movement, grace, and profound artistic expression.

Let me state from the outset that I am not a dance critic. However, I love the arts, enjoy great entertainment, and can recognize talent. What I experienced was truly unforgettable and almost transcendent. 

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After a brief welcome and introduction from Artistic Director Robert Garland, patrons were taken on an exhilarating journey. From the moment the curtains rose, the energy in the theater was electric, pulsating with anticipation and excitement. As the dancers took the stage, their presence commanded attention, exuding a palpable sense of confidence and mastery. It was a breathtaking moment to witness such a diverse array of Black dancers seamlessly executing classical ballet with precision and poise.

DTH Artistic Director, Robert Garland. Photo by Lyndon Taylor

What truly set this performance apart was the impeccable technique and artistry displayed by the dancers. Their lines were razor-sharp, their movements imbued with an ethereal quality that seemed to defy gravity. Each arabesque, each pirouette, was executed with a breathtaking elegance that left the audience spellbound.

But beyond the technical prowess, it was the emotional depth and storytelling that truly captivated the audience. From the haunting beauty of the opening ballet Nyman String Quartet No. 2, choreographed by Robert Garland, who is leading the company in his first season to Robert Bondara’s Take Me With You, performed by the remarkable Amanda Smith and partner Elias Re, to the catchy percussion beat of Reckoner by Radiohead, each piece transported us to a world of magic and wonder. 

DTH Company Artists Kamala Saara and Kouadio Davis in Pas de Dix. Photo by Jeff Cravotta

The performance of Pas de Dix, a Balanchine Ballet, with Kamala Saara and Kouadio Davis in the leading roles, was no less entertaining with the dancers conveying a range of emotions. The night closed with William Forsythe’s Blake Works IV (The Barre Project) which had its World Premiere in January 2023. 

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As the final curtain fell and the audience erupted into thunderous applause, it was clear that this was more than just a performance—it was a celebration of excellence, diversity, and the transformative power of art. Dance Theatre of Harlem had not only dazzled us with their talent but had also shattered stereotypes and opened doors for future generations of Black ballet dancers.

Watching the opening night performance of Dance Theater of Harlem on April 11, was an incredible experience. With their crisp lines, magical movements, and unbridled passion, the dancers of DTH proved again that ballet knows no bounds—and that the beauty of dance transcends race, gender, and tradition.

And the opening night was not complete without an opening night party, which saw patrons dancing before and after the show to the sounds of DJ Parle.

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