Profile: A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Robert Garland is a former principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company and former Resident Choreographer and Administrator for the Dance Theatre of Harlem School.
The Early Years: Robert Garland, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, began his dance training with John Hines at the Philadelphia School for the Performing Arts, and the Pennsylvania Ballet. During this time he performed as the youngest member of the Philadelphia Dance Company, from the age 15.
Upon graduation from high school, he moved to New York City to attend The Juilliard School where he received the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance. Through a four-year scholarship, Garland studied and performed works by noted 20th century choreographers including Anthony Tudor, Paul Taylor, and Jose Limon. During this time he also performed with Ballet Hispanico of New York as a principal dancer.
DTH: In 1985, he joined Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), working under the tutelage of Arthur Mitchell, Founder and Artistic Director. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a Principal Dancer, dancing many roles from the classical and contemporary repertory including: George Balanchine (Four Temperaments, Agon, Serenade), Jerome Robbins (Fancy Free), Garth Fagan (Footprints Dressed in Red), Alvin Ailey (The River), Alonzo King(Signs and Wonders), and Billy Wilson (Concerto in F). He also was an instructor at the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, well versed in ballet technique, jazz, modern, and composition.
In 1995, Mr. Garland was named Dance Theatre of Harlem’s first Official Resident Choreographer, choreographing works for the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s repertory. During this time, he also served as the Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, working closely with children and young adults while over seeing the school’s four programs. During this time he also collaborated on a work for New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project, with NYCB Principal Dancer Robert LaFosse, in an evening dedicated to his Mr. Garland’s mentor, Mr. Arthur Mitchell.
Other Work: In the year 2000, Mr. Garland took a brief hiatus from Dance Theatre of Harlem, pursuing work in non-concert dance related fields. During this period, he directed, choreographed, and produced a fashion show during the Fall Fashion Week, for the designer Manalé. He has also freelanced with Angelo Ellerbee’s Double XXposure Firm, under his Artist Development Program, working with New Urban Contemporary Artists including platinum-selling Jaheim.
Awards: Mr. Garland is also a recipient of the New York Urban League’s Building Brick Awards, honored alongside other distinguished awardees such as Wynton Marsalis of Jazz At Lincoln Center, and Keith T. Clinkscales, CEO of Vanguard Media Inc. He most recently will be the first black choreographer to create a work for England’s Royal Ballet.