DTH On Demand, as the platform is called, is an embarrassment of riches that includes conversations with artists, instructional videos for children and adults, online classes for all levels that are taught by DTH alumni, faculty and company members, and, of course, full-length performances from their extensive archive.
It all begins now. The programming kicks off with the celebration of “Creole Giselle,” the iconic DTH classic that premiered in 1984, which was reconceived by Arthur Mitchell and staged by Frederic Franklin, based on the original 19th century masterpiece by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot.
According to Johnson, DTH dancers came up with the series of programs presented this week that aim to enhance the “Creole Giselle” experience for people of all ages. On Wednesday, June 3 at 8 p.m., “Inside Giselle” features a recent conversation with original cast members Lorraine Graves, Augustus van Heerden, and Theara Ward on filming “Creole Giselle” in Aarhus, Denmark, in August 1987. It’s available on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Thursday, June 4 at 8 p.m., DTH artist Lindsey Donnell hosts her creation, “Giselle Jeopardy Live,” an interactive live Jeopardy game that lets you test your knowledge of “Creole Giselle.” The game is powered by Factile. And, there’s more. Get your exercise clothes on because on Friday, June 5, at 3 p.m., with “What’s the Step?” you’ll actually learn the first act variation of “Giselle” on Instagram in a live session with DTH’s Stephanie Rae Williams.
Williams’ class is followed at 8 p.m. by “Becoming Giselle,” a program that allows viewers to enjoy interviews with beloved Giselles from different eras. Interviewees offer insights on dancing the principal role, character building and other special unique memories. Hear from the original DTH Creole Giselle, Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, former ballerina Kellye Saunders and current DTH ballerinas. The conversations can be accessed on Instagram and Facebook.
Then, as a fitting climax to this week-long series of online activity, the DTH Online platform presents the company’s iconic, historic performance of “Creole Giselle” on June 6 at 8 p.m. Watch the full-length streaming premiere of “Creole Giselle” on YouTube or Facebook hosted by Johnson. The streaming premiere will be available until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 7.
This is only the beginning of what promises to be an exciting series of offerings on DTH Online. Other programs, with dates soon to be announced, include a tribute to DTH Resident Choreographer Robert Garland’s “Return,” and Geoffrey Holder’s magnificent “Dougla,” among others.
It’s important to remember that this bonanza of artistic activity is part of the celebration of DTH’s momentous 50th anniversary, a celebration that would have been live and in person but cannot be because of the global health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But, in spite of it all, DTH has found a way to embody a belief in the transcendent and transformative power of art. Such was also the case 50 years ago when Arthur Mitchell asked co-founder Karel Shook to help as he sought to use his talent as a force for change following the riots that erupted through the nation following the assassination of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.