Dance Theatre of Harlem collaborates with TCU dance


Dance Theatre of Harlem company members performing a piece titled Higher Ground. (Photo courtesy of Dance Theatre of Harlem)

By Cate Stewart, Staff Writer

Fort Worth was focused on dance earlier this month when the Dance Theatre of Harlem spent two days sharing its history and talent on TCU’s campus.

The collaboration with TCU’s School for Classical and Contemporary Dance brought about 75 members of the public to campus to learn the choreography to a number from “Dancing in the Streets.” 

Christopher Charles McDaniel was a DTH student before becoming an artist with the organization. He led the community event in Brown-Lupton University Union on Tuesday.

McDaniel said that teaching everyone, regardless of their dance background, makes people feel happy.

“It is all about making people feel good,” McDaniel said.

Dance majors participated in intensive workshops, masterclasses, a discussion panel with the group and the community event.

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Emma Monsen, a senior ballet major, shared how DTH focuses on the human as a whole as opposed to solely focusing on dance. 

“They teach and are interested in seeing you and the story you want to tell,” Monsen said. “The dancers are all so humble and gracious in how they share which is really refreshing.”

Keith Saunders, assistant professor of professional practice of classical and contemporary dance, has been with DTH for over 40 years. Saunders said there are no words to adequately describe the significance of DTH’s residency at TCU. 

“Our students got to experience up close a model of what goes into that notion of working everyday to achieve excellence,” Saunders said. “My hope for the lasting impact is that we are able to do things like this for our students every year.”

DTH was founded during the Civil Rights era by Arthur Mitchell, the first black principal dancer at New York City Ballet. McDaniel said that after the Black Lives Matter movement, the public looked to DTH for answers. 

“We were really blessed that everyone was now looking for dancers of color,” McDaniel said. “DTH and black ballerinas aren’t a new invention. We’ve been around for a long time.”

Dance students expressed the importance of DTH’s collaboration with TCU.

“One student reported this residency has been one of the most valuable contributions to the SCCD they had seen in their almost four years here,” Saunders said.

He hopes the dance department continues to be able to provide experiences like this in the years to come.