For several days, these images have been touring social networks. Ballet scenes and choreography performed on a Bach concerto – in a place unlike opera scenes. These young dancers, those of the Dance Theater of Harlem company, roam the streets of their New York neighborhood, performing with precision the movements of New Bach, invented by their choreographer Robert Garland.
Students of the Dance Theatre of Harlem dancing through the streets of New York City pic.twitter.com/VYCo387qOc
— ballet archive (@balletclips) October 12, 2020
The idea was born with Harlem Week, a week of festivities highlighting the cultural riches of the neighborhood, which took place online from August 16 to 23. In the context of the Covid-19 epidemic, the dancers of the Dance Theater of Harlem had to offer a virtual creation enhancing their neighborhood. This is how was born Dancing Through Harlem (Dance through Harlem), a ballet performed in the streets of northern Manhattan.
“I wanted to create something that celebrated these different places in Harlem, tells franceinfo Derek Brockington, one of the dancers and co-director of this video. We don’t see them all the time. Most of the dance films take place in central and southern Manhattan, or in Brooklyn.”
This shoot was also an opportunity for these professional dancers to meet again after months spent away from their studio. “Circumstances current “, those of the coronavirus pandemic, “motivated this project”, continues Lindsey Donnell, one of the dancers in the company. “We couldn’t dance in our premises. We all work from home, we take lessons in our rooms, in our living rooms., explains the 33-year-old American. We wondered what space we had to practice. “ And this space, “these are the streets of Harlem”.
A new experience for these dancers, accustomed to classical dance steps in the studio. “It was really interesting. One of the hardest things for me was doing the steps I usually do on pointe, but with sneakers!” sourit Lindsey Donnell. “It was very stimulating, like we were doing a show again”, comments Derek Brockington. The young dancer remembers this scene filmed in the metro, early in the morning. “You had to wait for each train to pass, every seven minutes, to avoid seeing any in the image”, he recounts.
Dancing in the middle of the street was above all, for these professionals, a way of bringing ballet to the inhabitants of Harlem. “We wanted people to participate, to see a dance performance… right on their street”, underlines the co-director of the video.