200802rotunda.jpgToday marks the third annual Informal Presentation on the Art of Dance, a dance event put on by the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Dancing Through Barriers Ensemble. The two troupes converge each year in a most unconventional space: The State Supreme Court of Manhattan!

Arthur Mitchell (himself a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet in the '50s and '60s) co-founded DTB after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, and the company is noted as being "the first major ballet company to prioritize black dancers." And now Mitchell is also to thank for bringing some fun into the Supreme Court building's rotunda. This all came to pass when in 2005 he reported there for jury duty and noted the space was perfect for a performance. After approaching a receptive Deputy County Clerk, voilà! A free lunch-time ritual was born.

Mitchell, who debuted his troupe in 1971 at the Guggenheim, told the NY Times he thought of the Sistine Chapel when he first glimpsed the rotunda, which is adorned with a vibrant Depression-era mural painted by Italian artist Attilio Pusterla. (Called "Law Through the Ages", it depicts justice systems from Babylon to America.) Every year jurors, court employees and even Justice Jacqueline W. Silbermann reunite under the dome for the hour-long performance; Silbermann remarks it "brings the whole court together. The whole atmosphere is much warmer, much friendlier."

If you're in the neighborhood today and looking for a place to spend your lunch break, head over there! The performance takes place at 12:45pm at 60 Centre Street. And if you can't make the performance today, the Dance Theatre of Harlem offers monthly Open House performances at discounted prices; the next one is on March 9.