A Different Pointe to Ballet: Harlem Dance Theater Performs at Lee Hall

As residents of the community filled the sold-out auditorium of Lee Hall Friday night, there were blank stares and confusion as to why the lights were not dim and the stage was not ready.

The audience anxiously waited for the curtains to open.

To the audience’s dismay, Keith Saunders, director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble entered stage left and greeted the audience.

The audience was able to watch as the technicians dressed the stage and performers practiced before the ballet production began.

Saunders also offered a few inside secrets about the ensemble, one being that they personally dye the ballerina’s tights and pointe shoes to their skin tone so that the audience will not be distracted by costumes and focus more on the movements of the body.

The DTHE started their performance by offering the audience a “behind the scenes look at the making of an artist, from the barrel to the stage,” according to the Lyceum program

Interactive performances have become a tradition of DTHE. The dancers introduced themselves to the audience, participated in a Q&A session, and even brought three young

men on stage to dance with some of the ballerinas.


The DTHE performed remarkably and by the last number “Contested Space,” the audience truly had no idea of what they were in for.

This particular ballet had only been performed by DTHE once before and was different from everything else the audience saw on stage that night. The audience seemed to be on the edge of their seats.

This particular ballet number was fast, upbeat, and packed with energy. Audience members whispered about how tired the performers must be. At the end of performance the audience left DTHE with a standing ovation.

“They put on a great show and I wouldn’t mind seeing them again,” said Ciera Butts a fourth-year health information management student from Belle Glade, Fla. Ballet is something that isn’t normally seen at FAMU. “Students should attend these events because it shows you more than the ordinary.”

There were a few performing arts organizations present at this event, including members from Rampage Step Team, Boyz of Poison, Divas, Mahogany and the Strikers.

Joel Abbot, a second-year criminal justice student from West Palm Beach, Fla., and a member of the Strikers said, “The Dance Theatre of Harlem was a production like no other. It was an extraordinary experience that I’m glad I had a chance to watch live.”

Ashley Murphy, 27, from Shreveport, La., has been with DTHE for 10 years she says her passion for dance motivated her.

“These performances can inspire young dance majors and performing artists to follow their passion.” Murphy encourages students to never give up on their dreams.

The DTHE is currently on their National Audition Tour and will continue to travel and perform all over the world.