Leave it to the Dallas Black Dance Theatre to kick off the summer with fabulous costumes, can’t-resist food and incredible dancers. Of course, they did just that on Saturday, June 5, turning the Meyerson into New Orleans complete with a king and a queen, a duke and a duchess and Jambalaya with Shrimp and Sausage for The Big Dance. The only thing missing was the steaming humidity of the French Quarter thanks to the Meyerson’s air-conditioning system. But it wasn’t missed at all with the costumed dancers parading through the marble lobby. Here’s a report from the field:
For those who have experienced The Big Easy style of New Orleans, The Big Dance was a dance down memory lane. Others got to sample authentic gems of sights, sounds, and cuisine during the evening. Brazilian Samba Dancers and stilt walkers gliding to the music of DJ Kevy Kev greeted guests in the main lobby of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
New Orleans native and Hurricane Katrina survivor Michelle N. Gibson orchestrated the evening, making sure it had all the authentic trappings of a festive night in The Big Easy. The evening started with the Honorary Chairpersons presented as a royal court. Norma and Don Stone were King and Queen, while Linda and Dr. Frederick Todd II were Duke and Duchess. Carisma Ramsey Fields and Kim Whitaker were event co-chairs.
New Orleans native Thaddeus Ford Preservation Band provided guests in the east lobby with jazz melodies. Guests in the west lobby were treated to the energetic sounds of the Big Easy Brass Band. People were able to join the party online and experience live music from both bands during the evening virtually.
Spotted on the dance floor were Boski and Sharad Sharma, Marena and Roger Gault and Willow Sanchez Lewis and Peter Lewis. Among those relaxing and enjoying the jazz music included Grace Cook, who has signed on to be honorary chairperson for The Big Dance in June 2022. Joining her were Erik Moss, Courtney Morrison and Noa Dawl. Also sighted during the evening were Dallas Black Dance Theatre Founder Ann Williams, Kimberley and Tony Scalia, Rebecca and Daryl Roberts, retired Judge Carolyn Wright-Sanders and James Sanders, Angela Chapman, Misty Hoyt, Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld.
Culinaire catered the luscious New Orleans cuisine, including Jambalaya with Shrimp and Sausage, Fried Catfish with Grits, Fried Shrimp Po’Boys Sliders, Peach Cobbler and Beignets. The chef provided Vegan Meatless Muffaletta, Vegetable Etouffee and Vegan Dirty Rice for the vegetarians. Among those savoring the food were Georgia Scaife, Cathy Shepherd, Paulette and Herb Turner, Sheena and John Payne, Ella Goode Johnson and Earl Johnson and Debi and Darren Pena.
Sprinkled throughout the evening were mini parades featuring dancers in authentic attire, including the Mardi Gras Black Indian/ Big Queen from the Wild Apache Tribe and Southern Belle Baby Dolls.
The BIG Dance Host Committee included Regina and Matamba Austin, Dorris L. Bogus, Angela Chapman, Greer Christian, Grace Cook, Marena L. Gault, Gwen and Art George, Misty J. Hoyt, Terrence Maiden, Amenemope’ McKinney, Kim Noltemy, Kimberlie D. Page, Christopher Plumlee, Kymberley Scalia, Boski Sharma, Michelle Thomas, Paulette Turner and Ann Williams.
DBDT Artistic Director Melissa M. Young and DBDT Executive Director Zenetta S. Drew chatted with guests, thanking them for supporting the fundraiser, which benefited Dallas Black Dance Academy scholarships and education outreach programs.
The finale featured Grand Marshal Michelle N. Gibson leading the Big Easy Brass, DBDT dancers, and guests in a Second Line dance through the Meyerson lobby. The Big Dance turned out the perfect way to kick off the summer party season!
Event sponsors were JPMorgan Chase and Co., The Eugene McDermott Foundation, Hall Group, with additional sponsorship from Hall Wines. The official beer sponsor was Stella Artois.
* Photo credit: Reflections HD Photography