Founded in 1976 by Ann Williams, the mission of Dallas Black Dance Theatre is to create and produce contemporary modern dance at its highest level of artistic excellence through performances and educational programs that bridge cultures and reach diverse communities. With an ever-expanding national and global audience, the company employs a diverse, multi-ethnic troupe of dancers performing for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre is the oldest, continuously operating professional dance company in Dallas. Under the direction of the Artistic Director, Melissa M. Young, the contemporary company, consists of 14 professional, full-time dancers performing a mixed repertory of modern, ballet, jazz, and ethnic works by nationally and internationally known choreographers. Over the course of its history, DBDT has performed for 4.6 million arts patrons and 2.8 million children worldwide (50,000 annually youth grades K–12).
To keep up with demand and continue to serve its local community, Ann Williams formed DBDT: Encore! (formerly DBDT II), the second performing company of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, in 2000. This company consists of ten classically trained and highly-skilled artists from around the nation. Since its inception, Encore! has grown in popularity and thrilled audiences with its fresh allure. Encore! annually hosts their season performing in the Moody Performance Hall (formerly Dallas City Performance Hall).
Under the direction of Executive Director, Zenetta Drew, a professional, administrative staff of 12 full-time employees is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company. Ms. Drew also works with a 50-member Board of Directors, whose primary responsibilities are fundraising and fiduciary oversight.
The 50-year old Dallas Black Dance Academy, founded in 1973, is the official school of Dallas Black Dance Theatre and offers classes (three levels each) in ballet, jazz, tap and other dance disciplines for ages 4 and up. DBDT’s academy offers classes four evenings per week and Saturdays during the school year and summer. The academy trains 550+ students per week in year-round classes at the DBDT Studios.
Moving to the Dallas Arts District continues the legacy of founder, Ann Williams. In January 2008, 2700 Flora Street, the historic, prior residence of the Moorland YMCA became the first permanent home for DBDT’s rehearsal studios, training classrooms, and administrative offices.
In October of 2014, the 2700 block of Flora Street was officially renamed Ann Williams Way in honor of the lifelong work of Williams.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre was designated as an American Masterpiece Touring Artist in 2008 by the National Endowment for the Arts and is proud to be the recipient of the coveted 2017 Texas Medal of Arts award for opening doors for artistic & educational opportunity for Texans of all ages, from the Texas Cultural Trust, February 2017. In August 2021, Dallas Black Dance Theatre made its Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival debut. LIKE WATER by the award-winning choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie was commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow as the inaugural recipient of the Joan B. Hunter New Work Commission.
In June 2020, DBDT became the first professional dance company worldwide to consistently present paid virtual performances as a new business model after the closing of live performances during the COVID-19 pandemic. Audiences have watched DBDT virtually in over 30 countries. Today, the organization continues a full complement of virtual and in-person programming that includes captivating professional dance concert performances, inclusive community outreach and arts education activities, and pre-professional dance training classes. Annually, DBDT serves about 125,000 people.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre is a resident company member of the AT&T Performing Arts Center – Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre.