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in the spotlight

DallasBlackDanceTheatreWelcomesNewBalletMaster by JonathanBostick


nthe summer of 2010,DallasBlackDance Theatre (DBDT) approachedDr.Mel Tomlinsonabout becomingmore involvedinits evolution. Tomlinsontooktime (a full year) to thinkabout relocating

fromNorthCarolina to Texas,butwhenDBDT askedagaininthe summer of 2011, Tomlinsonsaidyes andmovedtoDallas.

If thepublic couldsit inandobserve Tomlinsonashe teachesballet class to theprofessionaldancers inDBDT, theywouldunderstandwhat it is that DBDTnoticedabouthim.Whenteaching a ballet class, Tomlinsonhas an infectiouspositive energy abouthimall thewhile staying firmandarticu- late.Hisphilosophy is that one isnever too old(or accomplished) or too young (or inexperienced) tobecome a betterdancer. AndthoughDBDT is knownbymost forproducing contemporarymoderndance, Tomlinson’s contributionto thedance company’s evolutionofballetknowledge and technique aims to sky rocket aDallas institutionto thenext level inartistic excellence.

Tomlinsonis awelcome additionto theDallasdance community. He is the kindofballetmasterkids, aswell asprofessionaldancers, canlookupto. HehasdancedforNewYorkCityBallet,AlvinAlieyAmericanDance Theater, andDance Theater ofHarlem.Hehasdancedalongsidehousehold names, suchas JudithJameson.Hehas alsoworkedthroughout the coun- try as a teacher, choreographer, anddance activist. Tomlinsonsays, “I serve many roleshere [atDBDT].We allhave a lot ofworktodowhichtrans- lates into longdays,but it so refreshing to see a community supporting dance, especially inthese economic times.”

Pictured:Rendering of theArts Center ofNorth Texas

Tomlinsonwasbornone of six siblings inRaleigh,NorthCarolina.He became interestedindance after studying gymnastics inhighschool. Whenhewas seventeen,he beganformaldance training at theNorth CarolinaSchool of theArts,wherehewouldlater teach. Tomlinson receivedhisBachelor ofFineArtsdegree inonly two yearswhile touring as aprincipaldancer inAgnesDeMille’sHeritageDance Theatre.

In1974, TomlinsonmovedtoNewYorkto joinDance Theater ofHarlem, wherehispowerful build, crystalline articulationof line, andsupple flexibil- itypropelledhimto soloist. In1976,he leftDance Theater ofHarlemtem- porarily toperformwiththeAlvinAileyAmericanDance Theater,wherehe tookover themale role inAiley’sPas deDukewithJudithJamisonandpre- mieredthe revival of Lar Lubovitch’s TheTimeBefore theTimeAfter (After the TimeBefore)withSaraYarborough.He returnedtoDance Theater of Harlemin1978.

In1981,he joinedtheNewYorkCityBallet as its onlyAfrican-American member andthroughhardworkwas quicklypromotedto the rankof soloist. Tomlinsonleft in1987 to jointhe faculty at theNorthCarolina School ofArts. In1991,he joinedtheBostonBallet as adancer andmaster teacher intheCITYDANCEprogram,bringing classicaldance topublic school childrenintheBostonarea.He thenreturnedtoNorthCarolina wherehe continuedto teachandchoreograph. InNovember 2009, TomlinsonstagedANotte for TexasBallet TheaterbasedinForthWorth, Texas.

“I’mvery gladtobehere,” says Tomlinson. “Iwantpeople toknowthat withhardwork,Dallas couldreallyproduce excellentperformance art.” That is certainly somethingDallasdance enthusiasts are excitedto see.

JonathanBostick’s pursuits include dance performance,marketing, andwriting. DANCE!NORTHTEXAS

a publication of the dance council of north texas vol. 14 • no. 4 november 2011 page 5

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