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harlem is... Dance

harlem is . . . Dance was an interdisciplinary display of artworks that showed the power of dance and movement in Harlem. Launched in 2004, the exhibition uses images, including those by documentary photographer Ruth Morgan, to tell the story of three legendary dance pioneers in Harlem -- Marie Brooks, Ruth Williams and Dele Husbands, and the prose and poetry of students who interviewed them about their contributions to community.

The expanded exhibition featured work by 14 emerging and established artists and contributors who honor the traditions of swing, tap, jazz, classical, modern and African dance. Artists include:

Andrea Arroyo,

Tania Balan-Gaubert,

Sandra Bell,

Ramona Candy,

Elan Cadiz- Ferguson,

Randy Dottin,

Lance Johnson,

Dindga McCannon,

Byron McCray,

Ruth Morgan,

Tomo Mori,

Ademola Olugebefola,

John Reddick

and Grace Williams.


Through painting, photography, digital art, collage, quilting, printmaking, archival images and commissioned new work, the exhibition allowed us to reflect on the power of dance and to honor its innumerable past and present dancers and companies, including Katherine Dunham, Lavinia Williams, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Dianne McIntyre, Gregory Hines, Bill T. Jones, and Loretta Abbott, to name just a few.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a powerful poetic tribute to dance by Abdel Salaam, founder of Forces of Nature Dance Theater called “Harlem is a Dance Divine.”


The exhibition was curated by Barbara Horowitz of Communtiy Works and co-curated by Elan Cadiz- Ferguson, and is specifically dedicated to the memory of Loretta Abbott, dancer, actor, singer and choreographer. Community Works partnered with MIST Harlem, the Harlem Arts Festival, the Harlem Arts Alliance and the Clark Center NYC.

The exhibition was a part of Community Works’ on-going mission since 1990 to use the arts to press for understanding and to bridge differences among neighborhoods, as well as its efforts to detail the history of Harlem. It is part of a year-long effort, harlem is . . . Downtown/Uptown, tracing the influence of black New Yorkers since the city’s earliest days. 

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