Dallas Black Dance and Dallas Summer Musicals Offer New Online Arts Access for DISD Students

Two Dallas performance groups are working to counter the isolating effects of COVID on DISD students. Dallas Black Dance Theater and Dallas Summer Musicals are collaborating to provide schools with access to online performances. The first video for Dallas Black Dance is available now and will air until February 18.

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

“It’s very important for my students to see that level of performance and to know that it exists here in our community,” Rodgers said. A performance like DBDT’s “Odetta,” she says, allows them “to see how the music, the movement, the speaking, how they’re all married to that 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 Bob Dylan’s “Motherless Child” and “Masters of War”. She called herself the voice of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, after singing at the March on Washington and at protests.

Rodgers said it was the first time many of his students would hear these spiritual, protest songs.

“One of the things I always try to share with them and make them understand,” she said, “is that dance is more than just movement. It’s culture. It’s art. It’s science. It’s history. It’s all these things that they study in what we call the basic courses. But we also do it in dance.

The full version:

Dallas Black Dance Theater and Dallas Summer Musicals are partnering with the Dallas Independent School District in an arts education initiative in February 2022

Dallas, TX – The Dallas Black Dance Theater (DBDT) and Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) are launching a new initiative to advance accessibility to arts education during the pandemic. From February 1-18, 2022, Dallas Black Dance Theater will offer 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 consistent with the National Endowment for the Arts’ mission to support learning in the arts, affirm and celebrate America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and expand its work to promote equal access to the arts in all communities across America.

Matthew Rushing, Associate Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, choreographed the work ODETTA which DBDT performed on stage in 2019. The virtual matinee is made possible free of charge by Dallas Summer Musicals in partnership with Dallas Black Dance Theater and Dallas Independent School District. .

Dallas Black Dance Theater (DBDT) presents a dramatic lesson in the emotional and spiritual struggle of America’s 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 during the historic March on Washington. In 1965, Odetta sang for civil rights marchers who marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

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

For more information on how ISD Dallas teachers can access this virtual student matinee performance, please contact Allison Bret at [email protected]