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Mitchell, Arthur

Mitchell, Arthur, 1934–2018, American dancer and choreographer, b. New York City. Mitchell studied in New York City at the School of American Ballet 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 danced with the company until 1968. 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 African-American students. By 1970 under his direction the school developed into the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the first African-American classical ballet company. Works he choreographed include Rhythmetron (1968) and Ode to Otis (1969). He stepped down as the company's artistic director in 2009.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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