This Video Proves Why Representation In The Arts Is Important For Young People Of Color

Grab some tissues.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem just delivered an emotional short film that — in addition to showcasing its upcoming season — also highlights just how important representation in the arts matters for young people of color.

In the four-minute clip, featuring and named for a new song from India.Arie titled "High Above," the group features some tug-at-the-heartstrings storytelling focused around ballet. Daniel Schloss directs the video while Charlie Sohne wrote it. We may love everything dancers such as Misty Copeland — the American Ballet Theatre's first Black principal ballerina — is doing, but the purpose of this ad is to show that there's more work to be done.

The story follows a young Black girl in the wake of her grandmother's death. The child ventures out to see a performance — after seeing her mom throw the tickets away — and is struck with the beautiful Black ballet dancer on stage. After the show, the kid goes backstage and meets the principle dancer, who gifts her a pair of ballet shoes. Upon returning home, our protagonist discovers that her mother and grandmother shared a special bond involving ballet.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem describes its threefold mission as: "to maintain a world-class school that trains young people in classical ballet and the allied arts; to provide arts education, community outreach programs, and positive role models for all; [and] to present a ballet company of African-American and other racially diverse artists who perform the most demanding repertory at the highest level of quality."

According to the organization, it has performed for everyone from politicians such as First Lady Michelle Obama and President Bill Clinton, to foreign leaders like Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana. It travels the world and has performed in seven countries outside the U.S. in the past two years. Plus, it has a 98 percent success rate of its students graduating high school, with many alums going on to high-power jobs. That's a lot of positive change since its 1969 founding.


Watch the full video below and experience the inspiring message for yourself:

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