Dance in Pop Culture

Watch: Arthur Mitchell & DTH on "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" (1987)

Arthur Mitchell encourages Mister Rogers to try some basic ballet positions. A screenshot from episode 1574.

The late pioneering dancer Arthur Mitchell was an icon in the dance world—as well as a touchstone in popular culture. Not only did he break boundaries at New York City Ballet, where he performed under Balanchine as a black male principal, but he also went on to co-found Dance Theatre of Harlem. But his international acclaim wasn't limited to the stage: Mitchell and DTH were featured in a special 1987 episode of "Mister Rogers Neighborhood," bringing ballet into living rooms across America.


Luckily, we were able to dig up the footage. Fast-forward to about 3:15 for the start of Mitchell's segment, which includes company rehearsal and classroom visits to two levels of students in DTH's school.

The whole 12 minutes is worth the watch, but don't miss these moments:

Arthur Mitchell Click through to view the episode featuring Mitchell and Mister Rogers. Screenshot from episode 1574.

- Mitchell's pearl of wisdom as he explains the importance of technique class to Mister Rogers: "It's like a pianist must do the scales, everyday. You must practice these exercises everyday."

- Mister Rogers giving ballet a go. Is there anything he won't try? (P.S. His fifth position doesn't disappoint!)

- In DTH's library, Mister Rogers asks if Mitchell was always interested in dance and music. "More or less," he says, before casually explaining that he was admitted to kindergarten at age 3 because he was so passionate about learning.

- The seriously impressive young children rehearsing for their end-of-year recital.

If PBS has the stats, we're dying to know how much ballet enrollment increased after this episode aired. Regardless, Mitchell's mark on the dance world is indelible, and we love how this moment in time was preserved.

Advice for Dancers
Getty Images

How do I get rid of seasonal depression? I fall into a funk as soon as the weather gets warmer, and I should be happy.

—Warm Weather Blues, New York, NY

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Training
Getty Images

By the Sunday evening of a long convention weekend, you can expect to be thoroughly exhausted and a little sore. But you shouldn't leave the hotel ballroom actually hurt. Although conventions can be filled with magical opportunities, the potential for injury is higher than usual.

Keep your body safe: Watch out for these four common hazards.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Frozen put profit-sharing arrangements in place prior to the Equity deal. Photo by Deen van Meer, Courtesy Disney Theatrical Group

For a Broadway dancer, few opportunities are more exciting than being part of the creation of an original show. But if that show goes on to become wildly successful, who reaps the benefits? Thanks to a new deal between Actors' Equity Association and The Broadway League, performers involved in a production's development will now receive their own cut of the earnings.

Keep reading... Show less
NBCUniversal

Jellicle obsessives, rejoice: There's a new video out that offers a (surprisingly substantive) look at the dancing that went down on the set of the new CATS movie.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox