Dance Theatre of Harlem glides into Charlotte

On MLK Day, the Harvey B. Gantt Center will open an exhibition dedicated to the historic dance troupe, a prelude to four live dance performances at Knight Theater.

Local media on Friday got their first peek at the Dance Theatre of Harlem exhibition that will open to the public on Monday, Martin Luther King Day, and run through June 26 at the Harvey B. Gantt Center.

The exhibition takes up two Gantt Center galleries and is part of a broader effort that will include four live DTH performances at Knight Theater. Those performances, Jan. 22-24, will mark the first time that the world-renowned dance troupe has performed in Charlotte, which Gantt Center CEO David Taylor called “an amazing fete.”

A third component will involve making the performances accessible, especially to low-income students. The Wells Fargo Foundation, working through the Gantt Center and Blumenthal Performing Arts, has paid for about 1,180 free tickets that will be given out primarily to CMS students and local youth groups. Those free tickets account for about one out of every four seats for the live performances.

Learn more about Dance Theatre of Harlem and its history at


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“If people don’t get to see and experience what Dance Theatre of Harlem has to offer, then it’s a huge miss,” Jay Everette, community affairs manager for Wells Fargo, told reporters Friday.

With just days to spare before opening the exhibition, workers at the Gantt Center were busy putting the final touches on the two third-floor galleries, which will display a collection of costumes, set designs, promotional posters and videos.

The exhibition is called “Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts” and will highlight the “many accomplishments of African Americans and other minorities who dared to overcome social norms and prejudices to pursue their passion and pave the way for future generations of world class dancers,” according to the Gantt Center’s media package.


Although the DTH live performances will be limited, all who buy a ticket will get free Gantt Center admission to view the traveling exhibition, which includes more than 250 objects. Organizers are hoping that people going to see the live performance will begin their evening by first touring the Gantt Center exhibitions. (The Gantt Center will have extended hours on days of the live shows.)

Although the public will be allowed to tour the exhibition starting Monday, it does not officially open until Saturday, Jan. 23. Activities that day will include:

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A community dance class exploring different genres appropriate for all skill levels.

An art workshop for children. Participants will create simple tutus and body armor.

Guided tours of the exhibition.

A Gallery talk highlighting the history of the dance company with Dance Theatre of Harlem Artistic Director Virginia Johnson.

The Gantt Center will continue to offer programming throughout the run of the exhibition, working with Charlotte Ballet teaching artists and local dance instructors to offer a monthly community dance class at the center. Lectures and art workshops will also be offered.







Dance Theatre of Harlem will stage four live performances: At 8 p.m. on Friday 22 and Saturday 23, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24. Tickets start at $21.50.

Blumenthal officials said tickets to the live performances are nearly sold out, and they are now recommending the Sunday matinee performance for best seats.

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