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Harlem dance theatre

This South Bank Show takes a behind the scenes look at one of the most enthralling, diverse and extraordinary ballet companies.

The US company begins a tour of the UK in April beginning at Sadler's Wells in London.

The company was formed over thirty years ago by the legendary ballet dancer Arthur Mitchell.

The son of a janitor who grew up in Harlem, Mitchell became the first black member of an American ballet company when Gorge Balanchine invited him to join The New York City Ballet in the sixties.

After a successful career as a soloist, Mitchell decided to set up his own ballet school in Harlem to give young black people the opportunity to study and dance in their own neighbourhood.

Since its humble beginnings, the company that emerged has prospered on the international scene, a wide repertoire of classical and neo-classical ballets frequently in the UK, South Africa and China.

The school has a large and diverse student body of all ages.

This film follows Mitchell on a tour around Harlem, rehearsing with his professional dancers, and giving a lecture demonstration to young school children.

It explores the different outreach programmes, classes and open house performances that the school conducts all over New York.

With interviews from a wide array of dancers, choreographers and teachers in the company, this film also sees the company perform several of their own original ballets set to music from Aretha Franklin, James Brown and The Soweto String Quartet.

Click here for full tour details

Produced and directed by BAFTA award winner Gerald Fox (South Bank Show: Gilbert and George) and edited and presented by Melvyn Bragg.

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