“Farewell Founder’s Luncheon” Celebrates Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Supporters And Launches The Ann Williams Legacy Society

Back in 1996 the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Founder’s Luncheon was the brainchild of DBDT Founder Ann Williams to raise money and to honor “civic and business leaders of Dallas who have impacted Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the Dallas arts community.” Over the years, dozens and dozens of people and organizations like The Meadows Foundation, Liz Minyard, Juanita Brown, former first lady Laura Bush, Isabell Cottrell, Target, Nancy Hamon, Helen Giddings, Ruth Altshuler, JC Penney, Annette Strauss and Mary Suhm were honored.

Since Ann’s announced retirement in 2014, changes started taking place. In addition to the departure of two artistic directors, it was decided that funding for the organization should go in a different direction. Instead of the luncheon event going quietly into the night, it was decided to hold a send-off event — “Farewell Founder’s Luncheon” — at which time the new fundraising program would be revealed.

While some might have thought the luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on Wednesday, January 17, would be a boo-hoo occasion, it was full of cheers for Ann and her organization that is “the oldest, continuously operating professional dance company in Dallas.”

Michelle Thomas

The day kicked off with a VIP Reception in half of the Grand Ballroom for folks like Michelle Thomas, DBDT Executive Director Zenetta Drew, DBDT Executive Board Member Paulette Turner, past honoree Charley Pride and his wife Rozene Pride  and the day’s honorees Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd. Emcee Clarice Tinsley was juggling duties — reviewing script and accommodating requests for photos with Ann. Due to the day’s chill, guests were checking their coats at the door.

Speaking of coats, those heading to the Imperial Ballroom upstairs for the luncheon were finding the hallway brisk to say the least. It made some of the 650 guests opt to pass up the upstairs coat check.

At the back of the room, tables were set up for selling the DBDT’s 40th anniversary books. At the front of the room was a stage large enough for a performance. Down the center of the room was a 12-foot wide aisle with the head table set for 16 next to the stage.

Devrae Jefferson, Lindzay Duplessis, Kayleigh Eidson, Imani English and Chad Vaught

At 11:50 the VIP Reception was breaking up and the ballroom was starting to fill. Standing near the room’s entrance were five of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre Encore members (Devrae Jefferson, Lindzay Duplessis, Kayleigh Eidson, Imani English and Chad Vaught). When asked if they would be performing at the luncheon, they smiled and said, “No.”

Doug Curtis and Ann Williams

Clarice Tinsley and Lucy Billingsley

Zenetta Drew and Gilbert Gerst

Lelious Johnson

Right on schedule the headtable guests including Ann, Clarice, Zenetta, General Co-Chairs the Rev. Lelious Johnson and Kimberley Runnels, Honorary Co-Chairs Lucy Billingsley and Doug Curtis, DBDT Board Chair Gilbert Gest and the day’s honorees and their spouses Samara Kline, Joseph Nash and Frederick Todd were introduced as they entered the ballroom and took their places at the table.

Kicking things off DBDT Board of Directors Rev. Claude O. Maples told everyone to stand including Mary McDermott Cook, Regina Montoya, Marnie Wildenthal and Patricia Meadows. There was a slight hesitation as guests looked around a bit bewildered, but all complied. Then he instructed all to point to Ann saying, “Ann, you go, girl.” With smiles and laughter, the room full of guests joined in to the delight of Ann.

Clarice revealed that the Chilhuly-styled sculptures serving as centerpieces were available for purchase at $200 a pieces.

Dallas Black Dance Academy’s Allegro Performing Ensemble

Following lunch, the Dallas Black Dance Academy’s Allegro Performing Ensemble arrived on the stage and performed “Mandiba.”

Ann Williams and Linda Todd

Ann Williams and Herdercine Nash

Ann Williams and Andy McCarthy

Samara Kline and Kimberly Runnels

It was then time for the final presentation of the Founder’s Awards by Ann to Andy, Linda and Hercerdine followed by Zenetta’s revealing the creation of the Ann Williams Legacy Society that would be supported by benefactors listing DBDT in their will, trust, retirement plan or life insurance policy. Already on board as Charter Members were Norma and Don Stone, who in 2016 added DBDT to their will. 

Herman Houston III

To conclude the luncheon on just the right note, DBDT Encore member Herman Houston III took the stage dancing to Sam Cooke‘s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

At the conclusion of his performance, Ann Williams received a standing ovation for her vision and dedication.

For more photos of the event, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Farewell Founder’s Luncheon

Ann Williams and Andy McCarthy

Ann Williams and Linda Todd

Ann Williams and Herdercine Nash

Samara Kline and Kimberly Runnels

The “Farewell Founder’s Luncheon” on Wednesday, January 17, at the Hilton Anatole may have closed the chapter for one part of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s fundraising, but it also introduced the next chapter — The Ann Williams Legacy Society.

Dallas Black Dance Academys Allegro Performing Ensemble

And, of course, the event couldn’t just be a sit-down award ceremony. In addition to presenting the final Founder’s Luncheon awards to Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd, there were also performances by the Dallas Black Dance Academy’s Allegro Performing Ensemble and DBDT Encore member Herman Houston III.

Herman Houston III

While the post is being prepared, check out the guests and dancers at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s “Farewell Founder’s Luncheon” Honorees And Supporters Celebrated Overlooking Downtown Dallas

The Dallas skyline was the backdrop and an enchantingly beautiful center-of-room Christmas tree was the centerpiece for the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Farewell Founder’s Luncheon Honoree Reception December 5. In addition to Honorary Luncheon Co-Chairs Lucy Billingsley and Doug Curtis, Co-Hosts hosts Joleen and Jim Chambers welcomed DBDT Founder Ann Williams, luncheon honorees Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd, as well as DBDT Board members Gilbert Gerst, Georgia Scaife, Mark Cooks, Petre White, Paulette Turner and JeAnna Parker. Here’s a report from the field:

From the left: (seated) Gilbert Gerst, Georgia Scaife, Ann Williams and Joleen Chambers; (seated) Mark Cooks, Petre White, Linda Todd, Paulette Turner, Herdercine Nash and JeAnna Parker**

Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) patrons gathered in the home of Joleen and Jim Chambers to be the first to honor three longtime supporters of the 41-year-old dance company. DBDT Founder Ann M. Williams announced the final Founder’s Luncheon would pay tribute to Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd, three outstanding North Texans who have substantially supported the organization. Herdercine Nash has been a DBDT board member since 1988 and helped launch the luncheon 22 years ago as a fundraiser for the organization. Andy McCarthy has been a supporter for over 25 years, serving on the Board during the 1990s and recently giving a leadership gift to support a resident choreographer. Linda Todd has been a Board member for more than two decades and supported the renovation of DBDT’s home, the Historic Moorland YMCA Building, by underwriting the elevator installation.

Christmas decorations*

Between the twinkling lights of the Dallas skyline and the Christmas tree, it was the perfect setting for the honoree reception during the holidays. A brisk northerly wind did not stop some guests from stepping out on the balcony to take in the breathtaking view of downtown Dallas and the Dallas Arts District.

Andy McCarthy, Michelle Thomas, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd*

DBDT supporters started the luncheon 22 years ago as a way to honor Founder Ann Williams, while supporting what is now the oldest continuously operating dance company in Dallas. The luncheon will highlight the legacy and extraordinary service of Ms. Williams to Dallas and the field of dance. Ms. Williams thanked attendees for the various ways they had supported Dallas Black Dance Theatre over four decades. She also thanked Michelle R. Thomas, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Community Relations for JPMorgan Chase, for the bank’s eighth consecutive year as a presenting sponsor and Gilbert Gerst, Senior Vice President of Community Development Lending and Investments for Bank of Texas, for the bank sponsorship of the honoree reception.

Doug Curtis, Lucy Billingsley and Ann Williams**

Seen chatting at the reception, longtime DBDT and facility partners Doug Curtis of AT&T Performing Arts Center and Lucy Billingsley of the Billingsley Company, who are serving as honorary co-chairs, as well as Rev. Lelious Johnson and Kimberley Runnels, the luncheon General Chairs. Fox 4 News Anchor Clarice Tinsley will preside as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Lelious Johnson and Kimberly Runnels**

Chef Carlos Whitfield served up his unique twist of hors d’oeuvres. There was the spicy Shrimp Cocktail Mazatlan that Chef Carlos describes as a fusion dish with influence from Italy, Spain and Mexico. Cucumbers complemented the combination, neutralizing the heat of chili peppers. Chef Carlos also created a decadent dish featuring roasted salmon topped with cured salmon. Herbs and veggies were folded into beef meatballs that had a holiday flavor combining cranberry glaze and barbeque sauce.

Chef Carlos Whitfield hors d’oeuvres*

If you would like more information on how to sponsor or purchase a luncheon table on Wednesday January 17, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, contact [email protected].

* Photo credit: Maegan Hoffman 
** Photo credit: Derrick Waiters

2018 Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Farewell Founder’s Award Luncheon To Honor Founder Ann Williams As Awardees Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash And Linda Todd

Back in 1996 Dallas Black Dance Theatre Founder Ann M. Williams wanted a fundraising event to support the organization’s community outreach and education programs in the area including dance classes, workshop and lecture-demonstration for students. She also wanted to recognize “civic and business leaders of Dallas who have impacted Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the Dallas arts community.” Her supporters came up with the perfect solution — the Annual Founder’s Award Luncheon

Thanks to the support of such sponsors like Presenting Sponsor Chase, the event became the major community fundraiser for the “oldest, continuously operating professional dance company in Dallas,” that was established in 1976.

But the upcoming fundraiser on Wednesday, January 17, at the Hilton Anatole has been renamed the 2018 Farewell Founder’s Award Luncheon. The reason is that it will be the last one. It’s time to launch a new “initiative.”

But the luncheon will be far from a boo-hoo occasion. It will be a celebration highlighting “the legacy and extraordinary service of Ms. Williams, to Dallas and the field of dance,”as well honoring the 2018 awardees Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd

Doug Curtis, Lucy Billingsley and Ann Williams*

Joining Event Co-Chairs Kimberley Runnels and the Rev. Lelious Johnson will be Honorary Co-Chairs Lucy Billingsley and Doug Curtis.

With this finale luncheon just a few weeks away, better lock down your reservations pronto. Plans for the fundraiser’s replacement will be revealed at the meal.

* Photo credit: Derrick Waiters

Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Founders Luncheon Had Heavyweight Couples As Chairs And Guests For The 40-Year Old Dance Troupe

Ann Williams, Verna Mitchell and Gilbert Gerst*

Back in 1977, Ann Williams‘ love of dance gave birth to the Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Over the years, while other dance troupes have come and many time gone, the Dallas Black Dance Theatre has grown in grace, style, popularity and support. In addition mesmerizing performances, the organization provides dance classes, workshops and lectures/demonstration to more than 20,000 students from DISD and other area private and home schools. To provide funding for the DBDT’s efforts, it holds it annual Founder’s Luncheon. This year’s meal took place on Wednesday, January 18, at Hilton Anatole. Here’s a report from the field:

Ann Williams, the Founder of the 40-year-old dance company, selected Verna Brown Mitchell and Gilbert Gerst as honorees for the luncheon that was held at the Hilton Anatole Hotel Wednesday, January 18. Williams said, “Both are two outstanding North Texans who have made long-term commitments to the art, arts education and have been exceptional arts champions to Dallas Black Dance Theatre.”

Ron Kirk and Carol West*

Gerst is Senior Vice President/Manager, Community Development Banking at Bank of Texas and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Verna is a retired principal and has volunteered with Dallas Black Dance Theatre on the Founder’s Luncheon committee for more than two decades.

The Honorary Chairs for the event were Ambassador Ron Kirk and Matrice Ellis-Kirk, and the Luncheon General Chairs were State Senator Royce and Carol West, two high-powered couples with demanding schedules. Senator West was at the state capitol attending to legislative duties, and Matrice Ellis-Kirk was called out of town unexpectedly on a business trip.

Ron Kirk reflected on the international tours of the company telling the audience of more than 650 people, “No matter where they go, Dallas Black Dance Theatre represents the best of Dallas. Our best export is our culture. I salute the magnificent Dallas Black Dance Theatre.”

Frederick and Linda Todd, Rozene and Charley Pride*

Three-time Grammy winner country singer Charley Pride and his wife Rozene were spotted in attendance. They make the luncheon an annual event as longtime sponsors of DBDT.

Georgia Scaife, Michelle Thomas and Zenetta Drew*

JPMorgan Chase & Co. presented the Founder’s Luncheon for the seventh consecutive year. “The Dallas Black Dance Theatre touches thousands of local children, providing them with arts education programs every year. We are honored to partner with them so the dance company can continue to provide this invaluable outreach,” said Michelle Thomas, executive of Dallas/Fort Worth Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co. 

Jim and Joleen Chambers and Georgia Scaife*

Co-sponsors include Bank of Texas, Deloitte LLP, Hilton Anatole Dallas, Lock Lord LLP and Charley and Rozene Pride Enterprises. Additional support is provided by Dr. and Mrs. William J. Frazier, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Diane and Hal Brierley, Joleen and Jim Chambers/Victory Search Group, Stephanie and Bryan Carter/Concord Church Dallas, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), Dr. Evelyn Green Daniels, Drs. Dralves Edwards and Ellen Cooper-Edwards, Fossil Inc., Billie Hawkins, New Birth Baptist Church, Kim and Jim Strong, Texas Instruments, Texas Woman’s University, Linda and Frederick D. Todd II, M.D., Paulette and Herb Turner/Integrated Leadership Concepts Inc., Wells Fargo, State Senator Royce West and Carol West, and VisitDallas.

For more information visit www.DBDT.com.

* Photographs provided by NLG Photography.

National Endowment For The Arts Presents Big Thought And Nine Others With Early Christmas Gifts

Big Thought just revealed some big news. Back in late November National Endowment for the Arts Chair Jane Chu visited Dallas for a couple of days touring the Arts District and checking in at Big Thought. The Oklahoma native, who did graduate work at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, just provided Big Thought with a very nice Christmas gift — a $100,000 Arts Works grant for Big Thought’s Dallas City of Learning project.

Art Works, National Endowment for the Arts and Big Thought*

The funds will “help provide in-person and internet-based creative educational experiences for students across Dallas during the summer months.”

Gigi Antoni*

It was just last January at this time that Big Thought hosted a meeting of concerned educational, political and community leaders to address the issue of “the Dallas education system having gone dormant during summer.”

According to Big Thought President/CEO Gigi Antoni, “We are so grateful and appreciative of Chair Chu and the National Endowment for the Arts. We as an organization and as a city have been committed to stemming summer learning loss in our quest to close the opportunity gap and improve the academic and socio-emotional outcomes of our children. This community has come together for our kids, and with the NEA’s generous support we can make an important impact in their lives.”

Other local groups receiving Art Works grants from the National Endowment for the Arts include:

  • Chamberlain Performing Arts — $10,000
  • Dallas Black Dance Theatre — $10,000
  • The Dallas Opera — $45,000
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra — $20,000
  • Kitchen Dog Theater — $10,000
  • Matt Morton — $25,000
  • Nasher Sculpture Center — $40,000
  • Shakespeare Festival of Dallas — $10,000
  • The Cliburn — $10,000
* Graphic and photo provided by Big Thought

Bruce Wood Dance Project And Dallas Black Dance Theatre Awarded TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Funds

For the fifth year philanthropist Donna Wilhelm has stepped up to provide support for the performing arts. Through the TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund, Donna has annually awarded $100,000 in grants “to support the development and performance of innovative new works of music, dance and theater in Dallas County.”

Donna Wilhelm (File photo)

Donna Wilhelm (File photo)

The 2016 recipients are the Bruce Wood Dance Project and Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Thanks to Donna’s funding, the two dance groups will be able to produce the following programs:

  • “Bruce Wood Dance Project will enlist the creative talents of award-winning music theater composer, arranger, and conductor Joseph Thalken and BWDP Artistic Associate and SMU Meadows School of the Arts alumnus Albert Drake. Their collaborative work will explore the refugee experience across cultures through conversations, music, and dance. The work is scheduled to premiere June 2017 at the Dallas City Performance Hall.
  • “Dallas Black Dance Theatre will mount a new work by choreographer, dancer and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater rehearsal director Matthew Rushing, set to a score developed by world-renowned jazz pianist and composer Ted Rosenthal. The tribute-themed ballet will pay homage to legendary African American dancers and choreographers over the past century, including Talley Beatty, Alvin Ailey, and Donald McKayle. The multi-disciplinary work, utilizing video and live music, is slated to premiere in November.”

Past recipients of the TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund have included

  • 2012 — African American Report, Cara Mia Theatre Company and Dallas Theater Center
  • 2013 — Second Thought Theatre, Undermain Theatre and Voices of Change
  • 2014 — Dallas Bach Society, Dallas Children’s Theater, Fine Arts Chamber Players and The Dallas Opera
  • 2015 — Dallas Theater Center and Kitchen Dog Theater

The selection of the recipients is made from submitted application that are “reviewed each year by a national panel of distinguished artists and arts managers.” This year’s jurors included

  • Matt Albert (Chair, Department of Chamber Music, University of Michigan)
  • Laura Barbee (Adjunct Faculty Member, The School for Classical & Contemporary Dance, TCU)
  • Stephen Brown-Fried (Theatre Director)
  • Roger Brunyate (Director Emeritus, The Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University)
  • Kenneth Foster (Director of Arts Leadership, Thornton School of Music, USC)
  • Greg Fulkerson (Professor of Violin, Oberlin College and Conservatory)
  • Dean Gladden (Managing Director, The Alley Theatre)
  • Andy Grotelueschen (Company Member, Fiasco Theater)
  • Emily Hunter (Dance Teacher, Booker T. Washington High School Greg Hustis: Professor of Horn, Meadows School of the Arts, SMU Baba Israel: Artist, Producer, Educator, and Consultant)
  • Parisa Khobdeh (Dancer, Paul Taylor Dance Company)
  • Emily Lyon (Literary Manager, BEDLAM)
  • Patricia McGregor (Theatre Director, Writer, and Playwright)
  • Jonathan Moscone (Chief of Civic Engagement, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts)
  • Jonathan Norton (Playwright)
  • Brian Perry (Bassist, Dallas Symphony Orchestra)
  • Roche Schulfer (Executive Director, Goodman Theatre)

For more information about applications and requirements, contact Greg Oertel at 214.520.3930.