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Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers performing 'Coconut Woman' in tribute to honoree Harry Belafonte

*The world-renown Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) held its spectacular Vision 2012 gala honoring actor/social activist Harry Belafonte who was honored for his “extraordinary life of art and service.”

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The glamorous gala took place on February 28, 2012 at the breathtakingly beautiful Mandarin Hotel in New York City overlooking Central Park and raised $390,000 to benefit the Next Generation Fund and the Community Engagement Fund.

“It was a magical evening.  We showcased the talented, hard-working young dancers that we’ve been nurturing at the Dance Theatre of Harlem and paid tribute to the iconic trailblazer, Harry Belafonte,” stated DTH’s artistic director Virginia Johnson.  “It was also the perfect opportunity to celebrate the return of the world-renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem Company by debuting two of the dancers who will be an important part of our future.”

More than 250 corporate sponsors, supporters, friends, alumni and members of the board attended the stellar dance event, including renowned opera singer and board member Jessye Norman, DTH co-founder and artistic director emeritus Arthur Mitchell, DTH’s chairman of the board Kendrick Ashton, Jr., DTH’s board member & gala committee chair Leslie Wims Morris, gala committee members, Smokey Fontaine of Interactive One, Alpha Mom’s Isabel Kallman, Olivia Scott Perkins of Carol’s Daughter, Anne E. Robinson, Asha Richards and DTH vice chairman of the board Michael Armstrong, along with board members Zandra Perry Ogbomo, Trey Muldrow, Don M. Tellock, and Jai Jai Ramsey Greenfield.

CNN journalist Soledad O’Brien served as the special guest host and actress Lynn Whitfield, who offered a charming story about her mother’s sentiments about the “gorgeous” Harry Belafonte, served as honorary chair.

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Actor Delroy Lindo, actress and emcee Lynn Whitfield, special emcee Soledad O'Brien, honoree Harry Belafonte, opera singer Jessye Norman, Pamela Belafonte

There were also performances by the DTH Ensemble and students of the DTH school; as well as special video tribute to Belafonte before he took the stage to receive his award, humorously adding, “If only Sidney Poitier could see me now.”  The finale of the evening was a special preview performance by Ashley Murphy and DaVon Doane, two dancers who were selected from the DTH Ensemble and debuted last night as members of the new performance company.

The Vision Gala’s platinum sponsors included BET Networks; The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation; Siris Capital Group, LLC; Valentino D. Carlotti/Goldman Sachs & Co; and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.  “We are thrilled and very grateful for the wonderful support shown by so many corporations and individuals,” remarked DTH’s executive director Laveen Naidu.  “This gala marks an important turning point and will have a lasting impact on our programs and the institution as a whole.”

DTH which is located at 466 West 152nd Street in a landmark district in Harlem was founded in 1969 by dance virtuoso Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook.  Now under the leadership of artistic director Virginia Johnson and executive director Laveen Naidu, DTH is a leading dance institution of unparalleled global acclaim encompassing performance, training in ballet and the allied arts and arts education and outreach.  Each component of DTH carries a solid commitment to enriching the lives of young people and adults around the world through the arts.  (Photos by Brokaw Photography)

 

ABOUT DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM
Now under the leadership of artistic director Virginia Johnson and executive director Laveen Naidu, Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) was founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook.  DTH is a leading dance institution of unparalleled global acclaim encompassing performance, training in ballet and the allied arts and arts education and outreach.  Each component of DTH carries a solid commitment to enriching the lives of young people and adults around the world through the arts.

DTH has achieved unprecedented success, bringing innovative and bold new forms of artistic expression to audiences in New York City, across the country and around the world.  Serving as cultural ambassadors and representatives of the people of the United States they have participated in high profile tours abroad, notably to the former USSR in 1988, South Africa after the fall of Apartheid in 1992; and to China in 2000 following the signing of the 2000 US-China trade treaty.

The DTH School and its arts education and outreach programs serve over 25,000 students and educators each year.  Over 65% of students study on scholarship or tuition assistance at the school with an overwhelming number singling out their DTH experience as among the most important in their lives.  In 2008, the DTH Ensemble, a 14-member touring group, was commissioned to carry the DTH legacy to wider American audiences and have impacted over 70,000 audience members since.

Dance Theatre of Harlem is located at 466 West 152nd Street in a landmark district in Harlem.  The organization’s award winning building houses four dance studios, administrative offices, library and archives, gift shop and a physical therapy facility.

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

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