The Swans of Harlem: Five Black Ballerinas, Fifty Years of Sisterhood, and Their Reclamation of a Groundbreaking History

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In the late 1960s, Arthur Mitchell established the Dance Theater of Harlem, a company dedicated to showcasing Black talent in a traditionally very white art form: ballet. He and his dancers made history and inspired young Black dancers across the country to show that they, too, belonged on the stage.

Then they were all but forgotten, except by themselves. Valby has been fortunate enough to speak with some of the original members of the company, and they have helped her craft a compelling, fascinating book which even people largely unfamiliar with ballet will not be able to put down. Those who are familiar with ballet will no doubt be even more intrigued, whether they have heard about the company or not. Even those who know about the Dance Theater of Harlem will have a chance to read some of the dancers own words and reminiscences about the trials and joys of performing onstage at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Swans of Harlem is not a complete history of Black ballet in America. It does, however, shine a necessary light on a forgotten history and reveals the shoulders of the giants Misty Copeland stands on.

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Author Karen Valby
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publish Date 30-Apr-2024
ISBN 9780593317525 Buy this Book
Issue June 2024
Category Historical Fiction