Is Rooted in History of American Treasures Nina Simone and Odetta
Dallas, Texas – Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) produces a dramatic lesson on the Civil Rights Movement through soul-stirring moves set to the magical voices of Nina Simone and Odetta Holmes, known simply as Odetta. The two works will transfix audiences in the Cultural Awareness Series, presented by Wells Fargo, on February 15-17, 2019 at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora, Dallas, TX 75201.
“At Wells Fargo, caring for communities is embedded in our culture,” said Wells Fargo Region Bank President for Greater Dallas, Scott Wallace. “We strive to create and support positive, lasting impact—socially, economically, and environmentally—through our business practices, philanthropy, and community engagement. Supporting Dallas Black Dance Theatre offers us yet another opportunity to add to the quality of life in our communities.”
The dances salute Odetta, the “Queen of American Folk Music,” and Nina Simone, the “High Priestess of Soul,” two women of courage who influenced the world and used their musical voices for change.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Rehearsal Director and Guest Artist Matthew Rushingchoreographed ODETTA for the Ailey company in 2014. Dallas Black Dance Theatre is the first dance company to perform ODETTA outside of Ailey. Rushing says he was in Dallas choreographing Tribute for Dallas Black Dance Theatre in 2016 when he realized that DBDT would be an excellent fit for ODETTA. “I remember being in tech rehearsal sitting next to Ms. (Ann) Williams, and it hit me at that point,” said Matthew Rushing. “I could really see the dancers of Dallas Black Dance Theatre performing ODETTA. So, that was the first time that I pitched the idea to Dallas Black Dance Theatre.” Rushing utilized Odetta’s musical range of folk, gospel, and blues music in developing the work.
Iconic choreographer Dianne McIntyre’s The Nina Simone Project epitomizes Nina Simone’s regal presence with choreography set to Simone’s signature classical, jazz, and soul fusion. DBDT first commissioned Dianne McIntyre to choreograph The Nina Simone Project in 2011. “I shared with the dancers, because of their youth, those events in the civil rights era, and how Nina Simone was very close with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the struggle for human rights and rights for people of color,” said Dianne McIntyre. Ms. McIntyre says she gave the current dancers the same historical perspective, but times have changed. “Today, with these dancers in 2018-2019, these issues have come to the forefront. So, they’re not just dancing about history; they’re also dancing about today in their own lives. That’s what’s shifted regarding the time I originally choreographed the work and today.”