When it was announced that the Dance Theatre of Harlem, a historic African American dance company founded by the legendary Arthur Mitchell, would tour three Indiana University campuses—IU Bloomington, IUPUI, and IU South Bend—in January, both Iris Rosa, the director of IU’s African American Dance Company, and James Wallace, director of IU Northwest’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, knew it would be a great opportunity for their students.
The two directors of programs administered by IU’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA) had different reasons for wanting to expose their students to the ballet performance, “Power on Pointe,” held at the IU Auditorium last Saturday. For Rosa, the only director in the history of the African American Dance Company, not only could her students learn from the performance, but she had a longstanding connection to the New York-based dance troupe. Wallace, on the other hand, had the chance to connect a group of students to IU’s flagship campus.
“We had some students that were really interested in dance, that wanted to come to the IU Bloomington campus and experience the IU Auditorium as a connection to the larger institution, so they can feel part of something that’s even larger than what we have and offer at IU Northwest. We do have theater and performing arts, but we don’t have that dance component and our students wanted to see that, so that’s why I wanted to make it available to them,” Wallace explained.
“I thought it was outstanding. One thing that really struck me was the grace and the power of the dancers. We had front-row seats, and when we had a chance to meet and interact with them after the performance, they were all very gracious, kind, and friendly. They chose what they wanted to do at a young age, so that kind of inspired our students. It gave them more focus about what they’re doing, so they can buckle down and pursue their careers to a higher degree.