Leave it to the Dallas Black Dance Theatre to raise the roof and burn up the dance floor when it comes to fundraising. And on Saturday, June 1, they did it in a “big” way at “The BIG Dance” with “Harlem Renaissance in the Roaring 20s” at The Wyly Threatre. With guests like Sarah Haemisegger, DBDT Founder Ann Williams, DBDT Executive Director Zenetta Drew, Anna Kern, Georgia Scaife, Kim Noltemy, Mark Howard, Lena Carrera, Nycole Ray, Richard A. Freeman, Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld getting literally in the swing of things, even 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin was on hand. Here’s a report from the field:
The 20s atmosphere filtered the air as Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) transformed the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in the AT&T Performing Arts Center into the theme “Harlem Renaissance in the Roaring 20s.” It was all part of DBDT’s new fundraising event, The BIG Dance, a dance party that flowed through five floors of the Wyly Theatre on Saturday, June 1.
A Texas-sized gusher at the start of the evening did not stop DBDT patrons and guests from showing up in full 20s regalia. The guests included the reigning 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin. Ladies were in elegant flapper dresses accessorized with pearls, feathers, sequins, headbands, and fringe. The gentlemen looked dapper, some adding fancy suspenders or fedora’s to their suits or sporting vests and pinstripe suits. When the rain stopped guests were able to take photos beside a glistening white 1988 Excalibur inspired by a 1935 Mercedes. There are only five of these style American handcrafted luxury vehicles left in the world.
The Gatsby style music of the local band Texas Gypsies greeted guests in the lobby along with waiters serving hors d’ oeuvres by Wolfgang Puck, which also produced delectable entrees and indulgent desserts. The headliner for the evening was Big Swing and The Ballroom Blasters, a 12-piece band with vocalists from Atlanta, GA. The group performed swing music and contemporary hits in the performance hall area that had been turned into the “The Duke’s Grand Ballroom.” Swing music, jazz, and blues met patrons as they danced to different bands on the floors. La Pompe provided French gypsy jazz; with both jazz and blues flowing from Lady Diamond and the Rough Rubies and Roger Boykin. The Sherna Armstrong Band delivered straight jazz.
NBC 5 Consumer Reporter Samantha Chatman kicked off the evening as the Mistress of Ceremonies. New DBDT Artistic Director Melissa M. Young then thanked the co-chairs Angela Chapman and Boski Sharma for their hard work on developing the inaugural fundraiser which is slated to become an annual event.
Committee members included Shonn Brown, Greer Christian, Janiece Evans-Page, Laura Hagan, Stephanie Johnson, Demetra King, Clem Maddox, Gabrielle Madison, Shelia McAfee, Willow Sanchez, Kymberley Scalia, Erica Wright and Georgia Scaife.
In addition to being able to explore the live music throughout the Wyly, the evening soiree featured swing dance lessons by the community group SDS Gents of Dallas. Dallas Black Dance Theatre dancers graced different levels of the Wyly throughout the evening with vignettes based on the 20s era. The patrons became the judges for a fun-filled Roaring Twenties costume contest and competitive dance-off. The winners were met by cheers and applause.
Event sponsors included Wine sponsor Hall Group, Band co-sponsor JPMorgan Chase, Spirits sponsor Roxor Artisan Gin, and the Venue sponsor AT&T Performing Arts Center. The BIG Dance fundraiser replaces the Founder’s Luncheon that was a part of DBDT for 22 years.
* Photo credit: Ramona Logan ** Photo credit: Kevin Bowens