Dance Theatre of Harlem | Art Loft 707 Segment
Dance Theatre of Harlem | Art Loft 707 Segment


My name is Donald Williams. I’m a former principle dancer with Dance Theatre
of Harlem. As part of its 50th anniversary has brought
back Geoffrey Holder’s Dougla which is one of the signature pieces of Dance Theatre of
Harlem from way back, it was originally choreographed in 1974. As a
signature piece on the 90s, he did a revamp and he used me as the central character, the
principle dancer to update it and make it more relevant for the future. And now it’s a timeless piece. See what I’m saying? Like that much stuff. So that’s where you can go. In this particular dance, a lot of the movements
are very simple. They’ll just be arms, heads and then the most
important part of this would be the eyes when you turn your head to the front. And the expression that you give, what you’re
saying with your face as you make the movement and what you can bring to the steps. You’re bringing your own flavor, your own
extra feeling to it, what you’re saying in your eyes, in your face and in your body as
well. That’s something that you can’t really pass
on through a video. You have to pass that on from person to person. And so now I’m really proud to be able to
pass this legacy on. Because the company is smaller now, we have
to have supplement and we use local dancers from the different places that we go to perform
this particular ballet. Here we’re gonna be using Peter London Ballet
Company. What I came here to do first is to begin to
teach them before the company comes so they know the work. And then the company comes and then we put
it together and the magic happens. I really appreciate the hard work that they’ve
done. I spent a long career at Dance Theatre of
Harlem. I was a principle dancer there for 27 years. What Dance Theatre of Harlem was about was
trying to give opportunities to dancers of color to perform in classical ballet. That was the original thing because there
was the thought that dancers of color couldn’t do classical ballet. Before we were trying to prove that dancers
of color could do classical ballet. Now we know that that’s a fact and we can
do it. Now we’re trying to do everything. We wanna make sure that we continue to do
what Dance Theatre of Harlem was always known for which is being able to do all styles and
do them all well. And also provide opportunities for dancers
of color to do classical ballet, to do contemporary. It’s all about access, opportunity, and excellence. Just our presence makes it possible for students
who are coming up to see, I can become a ballet dancer if I want to. If they see people who are actually achieving
it, then they can be it.

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