The Dallas Black Dance Theater is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and this month, the theater is preparing for its annual Cultural Awareness Series to honor the organization’s rich history.
The Dallas Black Dance Theater is the 10th largest minority arts organization in the country and the oldest continuously operating professional dance company in Dallas.
The dancers are decedents of 40 years of black history. Descendants like Sean Smith, who is helping choreograph this year's Cultural Awareness Series.
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“The work is to be connected and to be appreciative for those who carved this path for us,” said Smith.
Friday, Smith will be accompanied by some 20 professional dancers from all over North America. The predominately black dance company has opened a path for many minority dancers in an industry that is mostly white.
“There was a time when you wouldn't see someone like me on stage and things are very different now,” said Smith.
It was 1976 when Ann Williams founded the theater. At the time, it was just a dance school. Over time, it grew into a hub of opportunity, something the dancers know Williams is passionate about.
“Ann Williams is a very prominent person in the community,” said Smith. “She is a very strong person, she is a leader. She has had a very strong vision that she’s kept true for 40 years.”
“The idea really was serving as an inspiration for the many boys and girls in the city of Dallas,” said Williams. “Especially the inner city that had never seen professional dance before.”
Today, the dancers with the theater travel all over the world. Their expression delivering more than just entertainment.
“The mission for Dallas Black Dance Theater is to serve as an inspiration for the many boys and girls who are interested in dance,” said Williams. “And of course the mission really dose stress education, which really is a part of the artistic excellence."
NBC 5 is a proud sponsor of the theater’s Cultural Awareness Series that starts with student matinees Feb. 16 in Dallas and performances being held at the Wyly Theatre in Dallas from Feb. 17-19.