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Dance Theatre Of Harlem Pirouettes Into Denver

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DENVER (CBS4) - Music, movement and perfectly toned muscles giving way to artistic express of dance and interpretation, that is the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The dance troupe is in Denver for one performance and a lecture demonstration for Denver Public School Students.

“We really want to expose the next generation of young people to the power of arts to transform lives,” said Virginia Johnson, artistic director for the troupe.

Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded in 1969 and is known as the first African American classical ballet company. Now in its 45th year the company is world renowned for its diversity and its new take on classic ballet.

“We’re really about making ballet relevant to the 21st century,” Johnson told CBS4.

Johnson is a founding member and a principle dancer with the company for 27 years. Now as artistic director she’s proud to see the legacy of the troupe continue.

“The idea that you give someone access to something truly excellent and they have the inspiration and the opportunity to study that excellence… that they have the chance to change their lives,” Johnson explained.

The company came to Colorado as part of Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee’s bringing back the arts initiative and Lou Vasant Presents in celebration of Black History Month. Most people may be surprised by what they see at a performance.

“The performance at the Buell is a mixture of different styles and different dances.

There is classical work that is everything you would expect from ballet and there’s a work to Aretha Franklin and James Brown. The Dance Theatre of Harlem is all about showing people what the arts can be.

“I like to think that when you come to see a Dance Theatre of Harlem performance you may have thought you were going to see something very traditional, but what you see is the reflection of your highest self,” Johnson added.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem is performing Friday, February 21st at 8 p.m. at the Buell Theatre. Tickets are available at your local King Soopers store.

- Written for CBSDenver.com by Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

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