Mitchell, Arthur

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Mitchell, Arthur

Arthur Mitchell, 1934–, American dancer, b. New York City. Mitchell studied in New York City and appeared on Broadway and with various companies at home and abroad. He joined the New York City Ballet in 1956, becoming a soloist in 1959. The first black principal dancer of a major company in history, he remained with the company for 20 years. His performance as Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1964) was especially acclaimed. He also performed with distinction in Western Symphony,Agon,Afternoon of a Faun, and Ebony Concerto. In 1968, Mitchell founded a ballet school in Harlem, New York City, in order to provide classical academic training to black students. By 1970 under his direction the school developed into the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the first black classical ballet company. His works include Rhythmetron (1968) and Ode to Otis (1969). He stepped down as the company's artistic director in 2009.

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