Lunchtime Tuesday on Bestor Plaza turned even more festive than a typical sunny summer day at Chautauqua, as dancers from Dance Theatre of Harlem held a special outdoor program following their triumphant season finale Monday, June 27, in the Amphitheater.
Drawing on DTH resident choreographer Robert Garland’s “Return,” a mashup of ballet and classic social dancing that the company had performed onstage the previous evening, dancers welcomed Chautauquans of all ages and skill levels to participate in an old-style Soul Train line. DTH dancers spent the first part of the program publicly teaching participants and audience members the vocabulary and sequence of a section of James Brown’s “Superbad.” Once the ephemeral ensemble of participants was suitably warmed up, they followed the professionals’ lead in a debut, one-time performance, to whoops and cheers from the gathered crowd.
Dance Theatre of Harlem’s public events during Week One marked the conclusion of a two-week residency at Chautauqua. The residency is part of a long-term initiative of the Institution to engage artistic partners to make use of the retreat-like atmosphere of the grounds to inspire creativity and of rehearsal spaces during times of the year in which they would normally lie fallow.