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For young dancers, pointe shoes represent the pinnacle of achievement. It’s the struggle for the opportunity to continue to struggle—years of training to be allowed to own a pair of painfully awkward satin slippers. Then more years of training to learn to balance on the tips of one’s toes for hours at a time and make it look effortless, even pleasurable. Seeing the Dance Theatre of Harlem for the first time as a teenage ballet student was eye-opening, revolutionary, and inspiring. Here was physical proof that anything was possible. Onstage were black women of all hues, defying gravity, dancing. I will always remember seeing their signature work, Firebird. One moment the firebird is dancing madly, the next standing still at center stage, in a defiant posture. Suddenly, she throws handfuls of sparkling red glitter into the air and it hangs like fading fireworks, descending slowly to the stage. I still haven’t figured out how she got the glitter into her hands. I didn’t become a ballerina, but I learned something the day I saw DTH: No matter what music you choose to dance to, bring your own fireworks—everything’ll be all right. At 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 2 & 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $22.50-55. (202) 467-4600. (Holly Bass)