Dance Theater of Harlem

Dance Theater of Harlem

Dance Theater of Harlem was the first black classical ballet company. Forces of Rhythm was choreographed by Louis Johnson to show various forms of black dance: Afro-ethnic, jazz dance and ballet. Its message was that Dance Theater of Harlem was not turning its back on its heritage but believed it had equal right to make classical ballet its own. This photograph was taken during the company's hugely successful first London season in 1974. The visit started quietly. Then word spread that something special was happening at Sadler's Wells Theatre and suddenly huge queues formed at the box office.

To cope, the theatre staff gave up their free time to help. T-shirts and lapel badges bearing the company logo of two strutting dancers were to be seen everywhere. When founder and director Arthur Mitchell announced that the next company into the theatre had generously changed its rehearsal schedule so that the season could be extended by a week he was greeted with shouts of 'We want six months'.