Los Angeles – So You Think You Can Dance? Know About Dance? Here’s a chance to witness memories of dance history first hand when a true dance legend comes to CAAM. Master choreographer, dancer extraordinaire and founding Artistic Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), Arthur Mitchell will grace the California African American Museum (CAAM) with a special personal appearance and public discussion on Wednesday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m. as the grand finale event of CAAM’s very popular exhibit, “Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts.” As the first African American to become a principal dancer with a major ballet company to co-founding the Dance Theatre of Harlem School to leading the Dance Theatre of Harlem as a professional ballet company for four decades, Mr. Mitchell is an authentic embodiment of dance! His personal recollections about his life and career are sure to inspire movement in the young and old alike. The event is free, with RSVP’s requested at 213-744-2056. CAAM is located in Exposition Park at 600 State Drive in Los Angeles, CA. Parking is $8 at 39th and Figueroa Streets.
“With the popularity of mainstream shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” offers Charmaine Jefferson, executive director of CAAM, “Arthur Mitchell’s legacy becomes even more apparent. The art of dance is a universal phenomenon that defies cultural barriers. The California African American Museum is maintaining a pace of social relevance as we continue to offer the public unique opportunities to see, hear and receive history. Arthur Mitchell’s presence at the museum is an opportunity to ‘dance’ via his stories, with a real star!”
The “Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts” exhibition will end on July 4th with a bang, as CAAM extends its regular schedule for a special evening Target Sundays at CAAM on July 4th with outdoor performances scheduled from 6pm-8pm, immediately followed by the fireworks celebration at the LA Coliseum. The museum’s galleries will be open from 11am – 8pm with afternoon children’s workshops at 12pm. The festivities include arts and crafts and food vendors with free admission.
About Arthur Mitchell:
Arthur Mitchell was born in New York City on March 27, 1934. When he was very young, his father left him, his mother and four other siblings. Arthur started shining shoes for money to support the family. He regularly visited the Police Athletic League glee club where he learned how to tap dance. When he was thirteen a school guidance counselor, who had seen him jitterbug, encouraged Arthur to audition for the New York High School of Performing Arts. For his audition Mitchell performed Fred Astaire’s Top Hat, White Tie and Tails and won a full scholarship. Although most dance teachers encouraged Mitchell to go into modern dance, which was more accepted for black dancers, his ballet teachers thought that he had what it took to be a ballet dancer and encouraged him to go that route. He chose ballet.
Through the years, Mitchell has been honored and celebrated, receiving the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of the Arts from President Clinton and the rare and prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. He has been inducted into the National Museum of Dance’s Hall of Fame and received the Dance USA Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Mitchell has inspired thousands of young people around the world through his leadership in the dance world.
About the California African American Museum:
The California African American Museum (CAAM) researches, collects, preserves and interprets for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans. Current exhibits include “Our Love of John T. Scott,” “Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts,” Ryman Arts, CAAM’s Permanent Collection and the Gallery of Discovery. CAAM’s newest exhibition, “How We Roll: Cultural Influences in Skateboarding, Surfing and Rollerskating,” will open July 22, 2010.
Chartered by the California State Legislature in 1977, the California African American Museum is a state supported institution. In addition to its permanent collection, CAAM hosts traveling and self-curated exhibitions, free public and school-age education programs, and tours CAAM-owned exhibitions throughout California and the nation. Admission to CAAM is generally free and open to the public, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm.
Explore the California African American Museum’s treasures at http://www.caamuseum.org. For general CAAM information call (213) 744-7432.