Dallas Black Dance Theatre Offers Creative Learning Opportunities with Cultural Awareness Series

ofCulturalAffairs and are scheduled to performat several local institutions, including various local cultural centers aroundDallas and theDallas Public Library. In addition to theirmany local per- formances,DBDT are a company that gives back to the community, through its focus on arts education and by bringing performances andworkshops to schools around themetroplex. These perform- ance opportunities help break down the various financial, travel and time-based barriers thatmight otherwise prevent a young audience frombeing able to see and experience a professional dance perform- ance.


Continuing to fulfill theirmissionof providing educationthrough the arts,DallasBlackDance Theatreheld a CulturalAwareness Series studentmatinee at theWyly Theatre this past February. School dis- tricts and interested studentswere invited fromevery corner of Texas to participate indance classes and to attend aDallasBlackDance Theatrematinee performance.

As a testament to the public’swidelyheld respect and admirationfor them, the demand forDallasBlackDance Theatre’s Cultural Awareness Series studentmatineewas so great, that the dance compa- ny added a third performance to their already packed series of events. Fortunately, theWyly Theater and theAT&T PerformingArts Centerwere able to accommodate twomatinees onFebruary 15, and one onFebruary 16.

Thematinee performance includedDBDT dancers demonstrating ballet,modernand jazz techniques. The studentswere also treated to aneducational look at the state-of-the artWyly Theater stage and lighting effects. The dancers performedEssence byChristopher L. Huggins and Tribute byMatthewRushing. Tributewas originally developed/produced/premiered atDallasBlackDance Theatrewith support fromthe TACADonnaWilhelmFamilyNewWorks Fund.

The attendancenumbers for this programreached a staggering 1500 students; coming fromall around theDallas / FortWorthmetroplex, including;Dallas ISD,RichardsonISD,Garland ISD, Lancaster ISD, aswell asAustinand IrvinHighSchools inEl Paso, Texas.

These staggering attendancenumbers prove that kids and educators arehungry for the arts.Rather thancutting arts programs from school curricula, legislators and school boards should endeavor to support funding and fostering anarts-based education. Isela Granados, a dance instructor fromIrvinHighSchool inEl Paso said, “InEl Paso, Texas,we don’thave the opportunity to takeAfrican dance classes.We are very limited to dance styles and, as a teacher, I want to exposemy students to asmany dance styles as possible. DallasBlackDance Theatrehas inspiredmy students to venture out of their comfort andwant to actually learnmore about thehistory of AfricanAmericans andAfricandance. Theyhavemore questions andwant to return toDBDT. Itwas truly anamazing experience for all ofus.”

Pictured: Students lined up for aDBDT studentmatinee page 12 May-July 2018 DANCE!NORTHTEXAS a publication of the dance council of north texas vol. 21 • no. 2

allasBlackDance Theatre (DBDT), the legendaryDallas- based dance company founded byAnnWilliams, is one of the country’smost community-minded dance companies. For 2018, they have generously partneredwithDallas’Office

Astudy conducted by the TexasCultural Trust in 2017 showed that studentswho completemore arts classes have up to 15%higher pass rates on standardized tests than studentswith fewer arts class- es. In addition, Texas high school students engaged in the arts had a 3.3%percentage point greater attendance rate than their counter- parts,whowere not engaged in the arts.

Educators and parents see the value in arts programing for creating a diverse andwell-rounded educational experience. 95%of parents believe that the arts should be taught in Texas public schools,while more than 80%of the parentswhowere surveyed had participated in the arts inmiddle or high school.With these kinds of numbers and support, there really is no justification for cutting somany arts programs across Texas.

KatriciaEaglin,Director ofDallasBlackDanceAcademywho taught theAfrican class for theEl Paso students said, “It is impor- tant for students to seemodern dance at its highest level performed by this diverse company, to showthat goals can be set and achieved. Students having an opportunity to hear fromthe dancers during thematinees allows themto see the various paths you can take to become a professional dancer”.

Programs like the CulturalAwareness Series helps to keep kids engaged in the arts and explore career options.El Paso area high school stu- dent, Treana said, “I thought the showwas very inspiring. I amjust a freshman starting in the dance teamand this is an experience I will never forget. Thiswas very unique and incredible.”Another student,Antiana fromIrvinHigh School inEl Paso, said “I enjoyed this show. Itwas so amazing, the purpose of it, especially. Itwas life changing and I hope I can come back because I have purpose in life now.”

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