The Dance Theatre of Harlem is emphasizing the power of activism through ballet with its new short film “The Movement.”
In the promotional film, directed by Daniel Schloss, children gather around a TV and watch as critical events throughout history unfold interspersed with clips describing the historically black dance company’s rise and role through the decades. The young dancers watch footage of former President Lyndon B. Johnson announcing the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and South African protesters advocating for the release of Nelson Mandela.
The kids turn the energy from each historic moment into their own routine to Billy Porter’s “Keep Moving.” Older dancers then join in on the routine, and the entire studio is eventually filled with ballet dancers taking a stance through art.
Dance Theatre of Harlem’s artistic director Virginia Johnson told HuffPost in a statement that the company has used art to “manifest change” since it was founded in 1969.
“As an ethnically diverse ballet company, every time the curtain goes up on one of our performances, we celebrate what is possible through access and opportunity,” she said. “In a time of political disarray, art can be a clear voice that reveals the path to take.”
The film is a promotion for the company’s annual spring engagement at New York City Center, which kicks off on April 4, the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, and runs until April 7.
Watch the short film above.