Famous as America s first culturally diverse neo-classical ballet company, Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) was founded in 1969 by African American Arthur Mitchell and the late Karel Shook. The company is now widely acclaimed as a major cultural institution encompassing a world-class ballet company, a school of dance, and a national and international arts education and community outreach programme. Agon
- (the Greek word for âcontest') is the ultimate Balanchine ballet. Made in 1957, the great Russian-born choreographer called it âa machine that thinks.' Responding to Igor Stravinsky's daring modernisation of 16th and 17th-century court music, Balanchine pushes and plays with the classical vocabulary. The result is dance stripped down to its steely, yet pliable, bones. For those able to hear the dancing and see the music (as Balanchine and Stravinsky once described their collaboration), Agon is a rich, scintillating experience. Apollo
- from 1928, is the earliest Balanchine ballet to become staple of the international repertory. Here he and Stravinsky strike a timeless balance between modernity and tradition. A simple story, the young god Apollo infusing the three Muses (of poetry, mime and dance) with the divine spark of creativity, becomes the springboard for a truly innovative homage to the classical dance heritage. Firebird
- In a dense and mysterious forest a young man is hunting. He hears strange and ominous sound and then sees a fiery light that sweeps the air and suddenly turns into the glittering image of the Firebird. So as not to frighten her away, he runs to hide as the shining creature leaps onto the scene. The Young Man returns and, fascinated with this shimmering creature, part magical-bird and part-beautiful woman, he attempts to capture her. Terrified, she alternates between frozen immobility and the wild fluttering of escape. She pleads for her freedom and the Young Man releases her. In gratitude she dances for him and with him. Before she leaves, she takes a feather from her breast, indicates that it is a magical feather that will protect him from danger, and then leaps high into the air and disappears from view. In the gardens of the Prince of Evil, the Young Man comes upon a group of Beautiful Maidens, led by the Princess of Unreal Beauty. He watches their simple and joyous dances for a moment and then steps forth from hiding. The Beautiful Maidens are alarmed, particularly so when the young man tries to meet the Princess of Unreal Beauty. But the Princess of Unreal Beauty steps forward and they begin to dance. Suddenly darkness settles over the scene and with a crash of music, Creatures of Evil appear and attack. The Young Man starts to flee but remembers that the magic feather will protect him. He stands his ground against the Creatures of Evil and the wicked Prince of Evil who has joined them. There is a flash and the Firebird appears. With incredible swiftness she circles the stage leaving a wake of fire. The Firebird destroys the Prince of Evil and the Forest darkens. In a final, softly shining lullaby, she brings peace to the forest and then flutters out of view. In the final scene, courtiers, attendants and bearers of pennants celebrate the wedding of the Young Man and the Princess of Unreal Beauty. Dance Theatre of Harlem - Agon/Apollo/Firebird website
.Choreographer George Balanchine (Agon). Music Igor Stravinsky (Agon). Other Rosemary Dunleavy (Staged for DTH - Agon). Lighting Paul Sullivan (Agon). Choreographer George Balanchine (Apollo). Music Igor Stravinsky (Apollo). Choreographer John Taras (Firebird). Music Igor Stravinsky (Firebird). Costume Geoffrey Holder (Firebird). Lighting Paul Sullivan (Firebird).