Arthur Mitchell, an American dancer, choreographer, and director, was born in Harlem, New York, on March 27, 1934. He was the first African-American to hold the position of principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. Later Mitchell, went on to cofound the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969.

Mitchell was sensitive to racism in the ballet world, and he was motivated to build an all-Black ballet company. He and Karel Shook formed Dance Theatre of Harlem, an integrated school, in 1969, and its linked company debuted in New York City in 1971. Before the group folded in 2004, Mitchell created a lot of ballets for it; the troupe was reconstituted in 2012. Mitchell resigned as artistic director of the institution in 2009.