Dance Theater of Harlem received its greatest gift to date

Dance Theater of Harlem will receive a $ 4 million gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the organization announced Tuesday. The company’s board of directors will also raise $ 1 million as part of an equivalent grant agreement with the Mellon Foundation, for a total infusion of $ 5 million.

Virginia Johnson, founding member of Dance Theater of Harlem, who was appointed artistic director in 2009, said the gift will go to increase the company’s size from 18 to 20 dancers, complementing the organization’s slender staff and further encouraging the development of works women and people of color.

In a statement, Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation, said that “the Foundation enthusiastically offers its support to the visionary leaders of Dance Theater of Harlem as they lead the company towards a bright and flourishing future.”

Dance Theater of Harlem was founded by New York City ballet star Arthur Mitchell in 1969 to increase opportunities for colored dancers in the world of ballet. For 2004, he employed 44 dancers, but they were all fired that year when it was announced that the company had a debt of more than $ 2 million. The bleeding stopped and, in 2009, Laveen Naidu, executive director of the organization at that time, reported that the debt had been reduced by more than half.

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