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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.