Modern Dancer Dianne McIntyre's First Ballet Honors African-American Women

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When Dance Theatre of Harlem takes the stage at the Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square Saturday they will perform the work of one of the Cleveland’s own.

Modern Dance legend Dianne McIntyre has choreographed dozens of dances for theatre, television and film, but this is her first ballet work.  

“They are doing Dianne McIntyre style in pointe shoes,” she said. 

The New York ballet company’s artistic director Virginia Johnson first called McIntyre in 2015 with an idea for a dance depicting African-American women’s stories.

“It would be focused on black women historically and today who have been so in the front of really creating an atmosphere in this country that was so uplifting. The women who dared to step forward. [Johnson] said, ‘there’s not enough of that understanding,” McIntyre said.

While “Change” is McIntyre’s first collaboration with Dance Theatre of Harlem she has long admired its work.

The company was founded in 1969 after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to provide children in the community where King was born opportunities in dance.

McIntyre also laid down roots in Harlem. She started a modern dance company and school in the early 1970s.

Harlem was “the heart of the arts of black people,” she said. “It was like the ancestors from the Harlem Renaissance… they left the scintillating inspiration in the air.

McIntyre now lives in Cleveland, which is where she grew up and began dancing. She said she hopes her work for Dance Theatre of Harlem inspires people in the audience to feel invigorated in their own lives.

Hear the conversation with McIntyre on Here and Now featuring the Sound of Applause today at 12:33 p.m. and 1:50 p.m. on 90.3

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