NYC Black Theatre & Dance
NYC Black Theatre & Dance is like no other because Harlem launched or amplified the careers of more black stage actors and professional dancers than any place on Earth. It was the home of the gangster-owned and racially restricted, Cotton Club. Oscar Micheaux perfected his road show tactic here that launched a Black film industry here and in the Bronzeville district of Chicago. New York chorus lines played a role in the development of jazz. Many jazz musicians compose in their minds while watching Black chorus lines dance. Think of Duke Ellington being inspired at the Cotton Club.
Harlem YMCA, whose Little Theater stage launched the careers of Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier, James Earl Jones, Alvin Ailey, Isabel Sanford, Esther Rolle, Roscoe Lee Brown and Glynn Turman by exposing them to movie and Broadway directors the world over. Abram Hill and Frederick O’Neal founded the American Negro Theater, which propelled the careers of Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis and dozens of other theater and film stars.
From the loins of those theatre pioneers we enjoy the Apollo Theater, which began life as the premiere venue of the Chitlin Circuit. Arthur Mitchell founded one of the world’s premiere ballet companies in Dance Theater of Harlem. Alvin Ailey did likewise with his Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. The National Black Theatre in Harlem today. In fact, Harlem has more theater companies, dance companies and museums than any other Black neighborhood in the country. The AUDELCO (Black Theatre) Awards are presented every year to huge crowds.