Dallas Black Dance, Dallas Summer Musicals offer new access to online arts for Dallas-area students

“It’s very important for my students to see that level of performance and know that it exists here in our community,” said one dance and drill-team director at a Dallas-area high school.

By Jerome WeeksFebruary 7, 2022 1:22 pm, , , ,

From KERA:

Two Dallas performance groups are working to counter the isolating effects of COVID on DISD students. Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Dallas Summer Musicals are collaborating to offer schools access to online performances. The first video from Dallas Black Dance is available now and and will be streaming through Feb. 18.

Tatum Rodgers is director of dance and drill team at South Oak Cliff High School. She said even when there were in-person school matinees, only 40 of her students could be bused there. Now all 150 can watch online.

“It’s very important for my students to see that level of performance and know that it exists here in our community,” Rodgers said. A performance like DBDT’s “Odetta,” she said, allows them “to see how the music, the movement, the spoken word, how they’re all married into this kind of performance.”

The DBDT video was filmed last year, shot in various locations around Dallas, including White Rock Lake, the Meyerson Symphony Center, Trinity Groves and Bonton Farms.

“Odetta” was originally choreographed for the Alvin Ailey company by Matthew Rushing. The video features ten songs performed by Odetta, including “Motherless Child” and Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War.” She was called the Voice of the Civil Rights movement in the ’60s, having sung at the March on Washington and in protests.

Rodgers said this is the first time many of her students will hear these spirituals and protest songs.

“One of the things that I always try to share with them and get them to understand,” she said, “is that dance is more than just movement. It is culture. It is art. It is science. It is history. It’s all of those things that they study in what we call the core classes. But we do it all in dance as well.”

The full news release:

Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Dallas Summer Musicals Partner With Dallas Independent School District In An Arts Education Initiative During February 2022

Dallas, TX – Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) and Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) are launching a new initiative to advance arts education accessibility during the pandemic. Between February 1-18, 2022, Dallas Black Dance Theatre will make available a virtual matinee performance of the highly acclaimed work ODETTA to every student and grade level in the Dallas Independent School District during Black History Month 2022.

This arts education initiative is in keeping with the mission of the National Endowment for the Arts, to support arts learning, affirm and celebrate America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extend its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

Matthew Rushing, Associate Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre choreographed the work ODETTA which DBDT performed on stage in 2019. The virtual matinee is made possible at no charge by Dallas Summer Musicals in partnership with Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Dallas Independent School District.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) presents a dramatic lesson on the emotional and spiritual struggle of the American Civil Rights Era through the virtual Cultural Awareness performance of ODETTA. Odetta Holmes, known as Odetta, often referred to as “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement,” was a singer, actress, guitarist, lyricist, and civil and human rights activist. In 1963, Odetta sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the historic March on Washington. In 1965, Odetta sang for Civil Rights marchers who walked from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama.

While DBDT has performed ODETTA on the concert stage, Dallas ISD students will view a reinvented version that takes the dance from the stage to unique locations across Dallas. DBDT filmed the dance in 2021 during the pandemic at White Rock Lake, the Meyerson Symphony Center, the Trinity Groves area, the Dallas Design District, Bishop Arts District, and Bonton Farms to make for a robust cinematic experience.

For information on how Dallas ISD teachers can access this virtual student matinee performance, please contact Allison Bret at abret@dallassummermusicals.org.

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