For Immediate Release                      Contact:   Gail Towns              or           Tara Strickland
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Georgian Court University Hosts Dance Theatre of Harlem

Lakewood, N.J., September 28, 2009—The Dance Theatre of Harlem, known worldwide for its hallmark neoclassical dance repertoire and its 40-year commitment to arts education and cultural awareness, will perform Friday, November 6, at the Strand Theater in Lakewood.

Tickets for the exclusive South Jersey engagement are on sale at the historic Strand Theater, which has teamed with Georgian Court University to bring the legendary organization to the Jersey Shore. The group’s appearance comes as the Dance Theatre of Harlem marks its 40th anniversary, which began earlier this year with Dancing through the Decades, a yearlong series of activities highlighting the group’s history.

Members of the DTH national ensemble will perform at 11:00 a.m. during a lecture demonstration for seniors and school-aged audiences, and again at 7:30 p.m. for the general public. Tickets for the 7:30 performance start at $25. Center loge tickets for $66 afford dance enthusiasts the opportunity to attend a special post-performance reception with members of the Dance Theater of Harlem. All tickets are available for purchase at the Strand Theater box office, by phone at 732.367.7789 or online at

“This event really focuses on dance as an art form, and it highlights their achievements,” says Laura Lella-Smith, associate director of conferences and special events at Georgian Court University, where dance majors study in the school’s new state-of-the-art performance venue, the Wellness Center. “It also draws attention to our program here and gets people interested in this art form,” says Ms. Lella-Smith.

The internationally known DTH got its start in 1968, shortly after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. That’s when famed dancer Arthur Mitchell—founder of the National Ballet Company of Brazil and the first African-American man to join the New York City Ballet—was so moved by Dr. King’s death that he decided to take action. Mr. Mitchell wanted to give children an opportunity to study dance and launched classes in a remodeled 152nd Street garage in Harlem.

A year later, Mr. Mitchell and co-founder Karel Shook created the Dance Theatre of Harlem, an effort fueled, in part, “by the optimism and idealism of the civil rights era,” according to DTH history.

In three short years, their classes would lay the groundwork for a professional dance company. In 1971, New York’s Guggenheim Museum was the backdrop for the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s professional debut, and later that year, ballet pioneer George Balanchine asked Mr. Mitchell to co-choreograph Concerto for Jazz Band and Orchestra for the New York City Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Over four decades, DTH has garnered fans all over the world, winning fans and followers in Russia, South Africa, China, Greece, and North America.

“The Dance Theatre of Harlem provides an evocative blend of experimental and traditional dance, attracting a broad audience base that includes our youth,” says Camille Lopez, executive director of the Strand Theater. “We applaud Georgian Court University on road-mapping an arts program that promises to stimulate both the mind and body.”

The joint effort speaks to the university’s commitment to the arts, says Ms. Lella-Smith. “We’re in an underserved community, and this performance avails people who might not be able to travel to New York to see professional artists. Our long-term strategy here is to build arts participation in the community.”

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at 90 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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