NEW YORK — Arthur Mitchell, who broke barriers for African-Americans in the 1950s as a ballet dancer with the New York City Ballet and who would go to become a driving force in the creation of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, has died. He was 84.
Mitchell died Wednesday at a New York City hospital according to his niece, Juli Mills-Ross. She said the death came after renal failure led to heart failure.
Mitchell started dancing with the New York City Ballet in 1955 under choreographer George Balanchine.
Balanchine put him in several leading roles, including one pairing him with a white female dancer in “Agon” in 1957.
In 1968, impacted by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., he started a dance school that grew to include the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
“It’s with the deepest sadness we share the news that our founding artistic director, the great, Arthur Mitchell has passed away,” the ballet company tweeted Wednesday. “His legacy of passion, power, and perfection will live on through each and every person he’s touched in his lifetime. We love you and we honor you!”
The dance community shared their condolences:
Misty Copeland, the first African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, said she “will do everything I can to fully bring (Mitchell’s) dreams to life.”
Actress and dancer Debbie Allen, who created the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, called Mitchell a “visionary.”
“Arthur Mitchell claimed Ballet as an American Art Form. His legacy lives through all of us. We will always speak him name,” she tweeted.
Contributing: Cydney Henderson
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Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2018/09/19/arthur-mitchell-pioneering-black-ballet-dancer-dies-84/1361641002/