Dance Theatre of Harlem is a leading dance institution with education and community outreach programs and a world-class school that trains young people in classical ballet and the allied arts. The Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble is the performing arm of the Dance Theatre of Harlem School (DTHS).

Founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mitchell was inspired to start a school that would offer children—especially those in Harlem, the community in which he was born—the opportunity to study dance. Mitchell, who was the first African-American to become a permanent member of a major ballet company (the New York City Ballet), felt he was able to change the world of dance and wanted to provide the same chance for others.

NYC-ARTS profiled Dance Theatre of Harlem by visiting its studios and speaking with Artistic Director Virginia Johnson in March 2013. 

The Dance Theatre of Harlem School (DTHS), a professional studio school, offers exceptional dance training for talented young people. Its affordable classes and programs engage approximately 500 students year-round. Through auditions, scholarships and tuition assistance, DTH gives young artists—especially those living in the inner city—opportunities to study, participate and excel in the performing arts. The school is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance (charter member) and listed as an institution of higher education by the United States Department of Education and authorized to enroll foreign students.

Dancing Through Barriers® (“DTB”), DTH's national and international education and outreach initiative, functions as a "traveling classroom," introducing thousands of young people to the art and discipline of dance. Dancing Through Barriers® tours public schools and other centers, working with students from kindergarten to high school, as well as a broad range of adults.

After an eight-year hiatus due to financial constraints, the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s professional company returned with new touring season in 2012-2013. Since its founding in 1979. the company had performed a repertory of more than 125 works in 41 states, 202 cities in North America and on six continents in 40 countries.

Dance Theatre of Harlem's Open House Series, presented on the second Sunday of each month between November and May, showcases the activities of its students and special guest artists.

DTH's Annual Street Festival on West 152nd Street is held the second Saturday in August,  just outside of DTH's doors.


Sunday Matinee Series: DTH's Sunday Matinee series usually takes place the second Sunday of each month from November through May. Held at its headquarters on West 152nd Street, each Sunday Matinee features performances by DTH School students, DTH Ensemble members and guest artists from a variety of disciplines. The performance is followed by a reception with the artists. Check the DTH Web site for Sunday Matinee details.

DTH School Community Program:
These Saturday classes teach pre-ballet, pre-dance, ballet, tap and jazz to young people ages 3 to 18.

The Annual Street Fair: This is the culminating event of the DTH School’s Summer Intensive Program.

DTH School Pre-Professional Program: This program is designed for select students with a serious interest in dance. Students attend classes after school three to five days a week.

DTH School Professional Training Program: This program is a three to five year accredited, certificate granting program for aspiring professional dancers who have completed high school.


DTB programs are tailored to meet the specific needs of each particular school or community. Activities range from video assemblies, lecture-demonstrations and master classes to in-school residencies and professional development workshops for teachers.

Dancing Through Barriers®, DTH's arts in education program, is the embodiment of the organization's commitment to increasing access to the performing arts. DTB®, functions as a "traveling university" introducing thousands of young people to the arts and discipline of dance.

Dancing Through Barriers® tours public schools and other centers, working with young people from kindergarten to high school, as well as a broad range of adults. DTB uses the arts to ignite the mind—to teach confidence, discipline and commitment—values that will sustain them throughout their lives. DTB is an arts in education and outreach program with a three-pronged approach: exposure to the arts, instruction in art forms, and integration with other disciplines.

The DTH Firebird Curriculum is a K-8 course of study that utilizes DTH’s signature ballet Firebird as the basis for children to explore creativity through dance, music and storytelling. Created in alignment with the NYC Department of Education’s Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts (Dance), the curriculum serves as a framework that integrates dance instruction and student-driven choreography with interdisciplinary study in the humanities, visual arts, health and technology. For more information or to arrange a residency at your school, please contact the DTB® Education and Outreach Manager.