During these difficult economic times, it is now more important than ever that we support our Black cultural institutions. The country is currently in a recession and the economic numbers are only getting worse. Small businesses are closing each day and billionaires are making more money than they ever have. Malcolm X once stated, “When white America catches a cold, Black America catches pneumonia.” Once we emerge from this virus era, it is imperative we have our cultural institutions still standing. Sadly, Black arts centers, book stores and small businesses have closed all across the nation. It is our duty to dig deep and financially support Black owned and operated businesses in whatever way we can during this troubling economic era.
One organization we can support this month is the Dance Theatre of Harlem and their annual gala Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. EST. The DToH will present its 2020 Vision Gala: We Are Dance Theatre of Harlem, featuring new ballets by Amy Hall Garner and Robert Garland. Grammy-winning musician Alicia Keys’ hit “Underdog,” from her new critically acclaimed album “ALICIA,” will be featured by dancers who created a hopeful, artistic video, meant to inspire and shed light on these current times. The video will have its world premiere during the gala. The benefit will continue with a virtual dance party hosted by DJ Niara Sterling immediately following the event.
The evening will recognize the legacy of Dance Theatre of Harlem and its founders, while celebrating the company of today. As an organization that was borne in response to social unrest in the 1960s, DToH created the virtual gala to amplify the importance of ballet and social justice during a time when the lives of Black and Brown people in America continue to be threatened by racism and systemic inequities.
Dance Theatre of Harlem carries a solid commitment towards enriching the lives of young people and adults around the world through the arts. The school was founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook shortly after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Mitchell was inspired to start a school that would offer children—especially those in Harlem, the community in which he was born—the opportunity to learn about dance and the allied arts. Now in its fifth decade, Dance Theatre of Harlem has grown into a multicultural dance institution with an extraordinary legacy of providing opportunities for creative expression and artistic excellence that continues to set standards in the performing arts. Dance Theatre of Harlem has achieved unprecedented success, bringing innovative and bold new forms of artistic expression to audiences in New York City, across the country and around the world.
If you can, tune in and support the Dance Theatre of Harlem and our Black cultural institutions more broadly: https://www.dancetheatreofharlem.org/visiongala/.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.