Zita Allen, the first African American dance critic for Dance Magazine, has written for the Amsterdam News, New York Times, Village Voice, Essence and others. Her works also include the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 25th Anniversary Souvenir book, the Kennedy Center's Masters of African American Choreography booklet, the American Dance Festival/PBS documentary Free to Dance website, the book Black Women Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement (Scholastic) and several chapters in the Smithsonian's book Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theatre Shaped American Entertainment (Random House). Ms. Allen holds a Masters Degree in Dance History from New York University. She also teaches a course in The Black Tradition in American Dance at Fordham University as part of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program.
Arthur Mitchell in class, 1960s. Photo by Milton Oleaga. Arthur Mitchell Collection, Rare Book & Manuscript Collection, Columbia University.
Throughout his remarkable career, the fiercely determined, intelligent and energetic Arthur Mitchell has become accustomed to being called a trailblazer. "Being a typical Aries, I like being the first," he says, laughing. "That's what I've been doing all my life."
This is true, especially when it comes to the discussion at the forefront of today's national dialogue about dance: diversity in ballet.