Funeral Planned for Beloved North Texas Dancer and Teacher as Police Search for His Killer

Funeral services are planned in Florida for 45-year-old Darrell Cleveland, a beloved Dallas-area dancer who was shot and killed early in the morning on July 23 at the corner of Cadiz and Ervay streets in downtown Dallas.

Police are still looking for his killer.

"Things you can't fathom, explain," said Nycole Ray, artistic director of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre Encore. "We will miss his gift of sharing and passing on knowledge."

Ray helped recruit Cleveland to the Dallas Black Dance Theatre in the 1990s.

"His body was so malleable and his presence was beyond those four walls," Ray said. "And Darrell had the most infectious smile you'd ever seen. Just big, bright and beautiful!"

"The passion he had for his students is something that inspires me to this day as a teacher and as a dancer," said Alysia Johnson, a former student of Cleveland's. "We respected him as a teacher. We respected him as a performer because he led by example."

Johnson is now a student at Julliard. She has been teaching a workshop called Energeizing Dancers of Dallas at the Dallas Black Dance Theatre Academy. Cleveland was her first jazz teacher when she was just 9 years old.

"It's a memory that will say in my head forever," Johnson said. "He knew every day, live as if it's your last 10 seconds, and he gave us that, and it's up to us teachers to continue that legacy."

Cleveland move from being a dancer, to a teacher and choreographer at studios and dance companies across North Texas.

"We will miss his gift of teaching children how to be whatever they wanted to be through dance," Ray said. "I'm going to miss his smile."

Police are asking for the public's help. If you have any information about Cleveland's murder, contact Det. D. Wilkins at 214-671-0524 or duncan.wilkins@dpd.ci.dallas.tx.us.

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