Celebrating Black Choreography: Arts organizations in the business of movement
In recognition of Black History Month, we’re highlighting signature movement studios founded by incredible Black artists who have made a lasting impact in American theater and dance. We encourage you to check out and engage with their work!
A pioneer in their own right, Alvin Ailey is a staple in the American choreography discourse.
“The mission of Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation is to further the pioneering vision of the choreographer, dancer, and cultural leader Alvin Ailey by building an extended cultural community which provides dance performances, training and education, and community programs for all people. This performing arts community plays a crucial social role, using the beauty and humanity of the African-American heritage and other cultures to unite people of all races, ages and backgrounds.”
Watch one of their most iconic pieces, Revelations, below.
Dance Theatre of Harlem
For those interested in classical dance, look no further - this company provides a dynamic lens on a traditionally Western dance practice.
“Now a singular presence in the ballet world, the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company tours nationally and internationally, presenting a powerful vision for ballet in the 21st century. The 18-member, multi-ethnic company performs a forward-thinking repertoire that includes treasured classics, neoclassical works by George Balanchine and resident choreographer Robert Garland, as well as innovative contemporary works that use the language of ballet to celebrate Black culture. Through performances, community engagement and arts education, the Company carries forward Dance Theatre of Harlem’s message of empowerment through the arts for all.”
Check out some of their work below.
A DC ensemble celebrating 25 years of excellence, with fervor and rhythm steeped in African American fraternity and sorority culture.
“Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! is the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping. Under Mr. Williams’ leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s cultural exports, touring more than 60 countries across the globe, and the Company now ranks as one of the top ten African-American dance companies in the United States.”
Urban Bush Women
Founded in 1984 by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, UBW is a Brooklyn, New York-based non-profit dance company and the only professional African-American women's dance company.
“Urban Bush Women (UBW) galvanizes artists, activists, audiences and communities through performances, artist development, education and community engagement. With the ground-breaking performance ensemble at its core, and ongoing programs including the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), BOLD (Builders, Organizers & Leaders through Dance) and the Choreographic Center Initiative, UBW affects the overall ecology of the arts by promoting artistic legacies; projecting the voices of the under-heard and people of color; bringing attention to and addressing issues of equity in the dance field and throughout the United States; and by providing platforms and serving as a conduit for culturally and socially relevant experimental art makers.”