Society / Featured Parties

Big Dance Party Takes Over Dallas’ Wyly Theatre, Brings Back the Harlem of the Roaring 1920s

Renowned Black Dance Theatre Turns its Gala Into a Late Night Party

BY // 06.27.19
photography Kevin Bowens

The internationally renowned Dallas Black Dance Theatre has been bringing contemporary modern dance to the community for more nearly 45 years. It is the fourth largest black dance company in the nation and it has taken its mighty talent on the road to 16 countries, all in an effort to engage diverse communities and bridge cultures by way of dance as viewed through the African American experience.

The groundbreaking history of Dallas Black Dance Theatre and its reputation for bringing unparalleled repertoires to the stage is unparalleled — and this year, for the first time, DBDT presented a megawatt (and mega-fun) fundraiser to match.

Rather than opt for the traditional luncheon function — for 20 years, the company has relied on an afternoon fundraiser to fuel its endeavors — Dallas Black Dance Theatre executive director Zenetta Drew and artistic director Melissa Young opted for something drastically different: a large-scale dance party that would take over every floor of the Rem Koolhaas-designed Wyly Theatre in the heart of the Dallas Arts District.

Event chairs Angela Chapman and Boski Sharma dubbed the evening The Big Dance — and it was big, indeed, complete with a “Harlem Renaissance in the Roaring ’20s” theme. (Talk about an equation for festive party attire!)

Live music from the likes of Atlanta-based Big Swing & The Ballroom Blasters, the Texas Gypsies, La Pompe, and the Sherna Armstrong Band played live music on different floors throughout the Wyly.

Simultaneously, there were dance lessons and a competitive dance-off — and, of course, professional dancers from Dallas Black Dance Theatre performed several vignettes throughout the evening.

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If one were to stand outside the Wyly that night, they would have heard a mix of music, from a live DJ spinning a mash-up of electro-swing, house music, and top hits to the live sounds of swing, jazz, and standards.

The roaming event went late — until 2 am, to be exact — and the energy was fueled by an outdoor cigar bar, a range of culinary offerings, and (naturally) plenty of cocktails. It was these spiked libations that helped give a dose of liquid courage to those more timid of dancers.

By evening’s end, rest assured, everyone inside the Wyly was on their feet, moving, grooving, and raising a toast to Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

PC Seen: DBDT founder Ann Williams; host committee members Shonn Brown, Greer Christian, Janiece Evans-Page, Laura Hagan, Stephanie Johnson, Demetra King, Clem Maddox, Gabrielle Madison, Shelia McAfee, Willow Sanchez, Georgia Scaife, Kymberley Scalia, and Eric Wright; plus guests including Sarah Haemisegger, Anna Kern, Nia Franklin, emcee Samantha Chatman, and Kim Noltemy.

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