Dance Theatre of Harlem's New Short Film Honors the Inspiring Power of Black Ballet Dancers

Dance Theatre of Harlem's annual New York City Center run kicks off next month. But rather than putting out a standard-issue promotional video for the season, the company produced a beautiful short film, "High Above," showing art's unique ability to lift us up.

With a title track by India.Arie, the film follows a young black girl's trip to a DTH performance after the death of her grandmother. Comforted and inspired by the gorgeous dancing—and by a special gift from dancer Alison Stroming—the girl returns home, and reflects on the memories she, her mother and her grandmother made at other DTH performances.

It's another reminder of how critical it is for black children to see dancers who look like them onstage—and of how singularly important the arts are in times of sadness and struggle.

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Photo by Brooke Fera

Enter the World of the Knicks City Dancers with 2 of Their Newest Rookies

Auditions rarely fail to deliver on suspense. But this? This was the nail-biter to end all nail-biters. Hayoung Roh and Chelsea McCloskey, both professional dancers based in NYC, had made it through what felt like endless rounds of cuts, both on Zoom and in person. Out of the nearly 500 dancers (from 30 states and nine countries) who'd answered the Knicks City Dancers' open call for video submissions, just 20 remained—McCloskey and Roh among them. "We were separated into six holding rooms, where we kept trying to figure out the math," Roh recalls. "How many girls are there in total? Who was called back?"

Finally, the women returned to the audition room to dance one last time—or so they were told. Instead, KCD head coach Alyssa Quezada dropped her bombshell: All 20 women had made the final cut. They would be 2021–22 Knicks City Dancers: the latest and greatest edition of one of the most prestigious NBA dance teams. "It was the biggest celebration and the coolest moment of my dance career so far," says McCloskey now. And that was just the oh-so-perfectly-dramatic beginning.

Chelsea McCloskey stands on her left leg while kicking her right leg up with her arms crossed, a smile on her face. She is auditioning for KCD. Chelsea McCloskey Photo by Tess Mayer

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