Pointe: Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet’s “Constellation Project” Maps the Complex Histories of 6 Dance Pioneers
By Zoe Phillips
09 February 2021
Last week, Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet celebrated the start of Black History Month with the launch of The Constellation Project, a star-studded online exhibition of dance history. The project maps the lives of six influential Black dancers—Arthur Mitchell, Mel Tomlinson, Lavinia Williams, Mabel Jones Freeman, Doris Jones and Claire Haywood—across a digitally rendered galaxy of historical events, institutions and more. The result is an educational experience that, much like its galaxy-inspired title, will no doubt only continue to grow.
Writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard founded MoBBallet in 2015 with a fairly simple mission: to make the invisible visible. She started with projects like her Roll Call of Black dancers and the Timeline that traces their presence back into the 19th century. These designs highlighted Black artists as individuals, but the more that Howard learned, the more complex these stories became.
“We don’t dance in a vacuum,” Howard explained recently, “and history is not as siloed as it’s presented when we teach it.”
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