Anne Lauren Luben's picture
  • Dish
  • 4 April 2018
Dance Theatre of Harlem - photo credit: Rachel Neville

Fifty years ago today, iconic civil rights champion Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. To honor his memory and his incredible work, New York-based Dance Theatre of Harlem has created a video to remind us of the importance and power of activism. 

In the video, which is directed by Daniel Schloss, several young dancers watch a television screen depicting clips of some of history's most iconic events, such as former President Lyndon. B. Johnson announced the death of MLK, and protesters working to release a jailed Nelson Mandela. There are also clips highlighting the rise of the dance company; naturally, the kids begin to dance to a song by Billy Porter called "Keep Moving", showing the power of dance and art as a form of activism, emphasizing that 'The Movement Continues.'

The company's artistic director Virginia Johnson spoke to Huffington Post about the video, saying that the company has used art to “manifest change” since it was founded in 1969. She also spoke about the importance of the company's work, saying that “as an ethnically diverse ballet company, every time the curtain goes up on one of our performances, we celebrate what is possible through access and opportunity. In a time of political disarray, art can be a clear voice that reveals the path to take.”

The company will also begin their annual Spring performances at New York City Center today, running until April 7th. The Vision Gala, which opens the first performance, will reflect on Dr. King's legacy, and how his assassination shaped our modern culture. The company will perform a variety of work, including excerpts from Robert Garland's Brahms Variations, Marius Petipa's Le Corsaire Pas de Deux, and a new work by Darrel Grand Moultrie called Harlem on My Mind.

photo  credit: Rachel Neville