The mission of Dallas Black Dance theater is to create contemporary modern dance at its highest level of artistic excellence.
We do that through bridging cultures and being able to share our educational programs and our art across communities and around the world.
It's not all about being on the stage.
Not everyone has access to that.
Just as much as we want people to come to the theater we really strive to expose people to something that they never perhaps knew about and just give them hope for what their lives can do.
Dallas Black dance theater is celebrating its forty fifth season and originally did not start off as a company.
Dallas Black Dance theater was an academy.
Ann Williams wanted a place for minority children in the community to train like their counterparts.
She wanted black children to have that same opportunity.
We now are the largest professional dance company in Dallas, the oldest professional dance company in Dallas.
And Dallas happens to be the only major city in the United States where a predominantly minority company provides the leading dance services.
We decided to offer virtual performances and to also charge a fee simply because we knew that the pandemic, when it closed all of the facilities, that we had the opportunity to move forward, and not just try to recover from the closing, but to also discover new ways to share our art.
And we wanted to place a value on it because we felt that that was a way that we could keep our dancers paid, we could keep them working, and we could communicate to our publics that there was a value to the artistic content that was being put out while we worked our way through the pandemic.
The most successful of the virtual offerings that we did this past year was our Espresso Nutcracker produced by our academy.
It is the only nutcracker of color in this region.
We knew that there was going to be a real opportunity for this show to be number one in sales.
We had many institutions who saw this as an opportunity to share our product, our academy students on stage with youth in communities around the nation.
When it came time for virtual programing, I didn't want to put out content similar to what everyone else was doing.
How do you translate works that are meant for the stage into a different space, a more organic space, I didn't want to dilute the power of these pieces when it came time to decide which works, we'd be filming for these virtual times, we tried to make sure that, those locations really fit the choreography, fit the story.
We looked at the costs, and certainly it was less costly than being on a stage, the type of technical costs that were required and it allowed for new creativity.
We performed on the plaza at Dallas City Hall.
At Klyde Warren Park which is very iconic area of Dallas.
Another place we performed was this event space called The Nest at Ruth Farms.
A stunning rooftop in Dallas.
An excerpt from a work called Odetta choreographed by Matthew Rushing, who is the associate artistic director for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
We filmed it on a dock at White Rock Lake That's what I really love about filming for these virtual times, because it was our opportunity to allow the viewer to witness dance in a way that they would never have the opportunity in the theater.
We understood very quickly that when we returned to the theaters, we would not cannibalize in person seating because we had a broad scope of viewers.
So many new communities, rural communities, communities that have never had access not just to dance, but all types of arts to have a chance to now get excited, learn more and create an interest that when they are in cities or areas where they are performing arts centers or professional arts organizations, that they will want to come and sit in the seat.
The opportunity to be invited to perform at Jacob's Pillow Festival, to know that we are a part of America's oldest dance festival, it's giving us an opportunity to make our mark, to show the world that, you know, this dance company down in Dallas is worthy of being a part of American modern dance history.
Darrell Grand Moultrie has created a brand new work for us called "Like Water."
It really showcases the spirit of Dallas Black dance theater.
The pandemic highlighted a health crisis.
It also highlighted a racial crisis.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre has been at the center of educating since its inception by using Black in the name of the organization.
And what we present is an opportunity to have a discussion about American history and the evolution of that name in our history.
So many people have asked, you know, how are you presenting your work differently?
You know, based on what we see in the news media, based on stories we may have experienced personally, and I've said our work hasn't changed at all because we've always done the work of putting these issues onto the stages around the world and unfortunately, those stories still are relevant.
But that, again, shows how art is so necessary as really a curation of history, legacy and possibilities We as a nation have an opportunity and through our art and through Dallas Black Dance Theatre to create a cultural fabric of audiences, dancers, staff, community that really is reflective of who we say we are and who America is.
We're excited to be at the center of the American experience.