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Iconic Ballet Dancer Arthur Mitchell Remembered In The Berkshires

Carl Van Vechten
United States Library of Congress
Arthur Mitchell in 1955.

Trailblazing dance icon Arthur Mitchell died this week at 84. WAMC’s Josh Landes reports his legacy is being celebrated in the Berkshires.

Norton Owen is Director of Preservation at Jacob’s Pillow, the modern dance center in Becket, Massachusetts. He says Mitchell — one of the world’s first black ballet dancers — first came to Jacob’s Pillow as a teenage company member. But his major historical moment with the center came when he brought his groundbreaking black classical ballet company to the Berkshires in 1970.

“When he founded Dance Theater of Harlem, Jacob’s Pillow was the place where he first brought the company to be seen by the public,” Owen told WAMC. He says he’ll be exploring the Jacob’s Pillow archives to contribute to a celebration of Mitchell’s life.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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