SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE
The Dallas Black Dance Theatre will return to the Publick Playhouse for the 11th time with “The Nina Simone Project” from April 25-27 celebrating the life and times of the celebrated pianist, singer, arranger and civil rights activist.
The company will be at the Cheverly theatre for about a week leading up to the performances During this time, they will offer master classes to advanced dance students and put on special shows for children and seniors. Ann Williams, founder and artistic director of the company, considers the Publick Playhouse “one of our second homes.”
The “Nina Simone Project” is a modern dance interpretation of Simone’s life using her music in addition to choreography by Dianne McIntyre with help from Williams.
“The songs that we have chosen are really not her everyday songs, most are not her hits,” Williams said. “I worked very closely with Dianne [McIntyre], we wanted to get some of those songs that are not so familiar with the public.”
When Williams announced her May 2014 retirement last year, the Dallas Black Dance Theatre decided to perform these last shows in her honor to celebrate her legacy.
“This is my last season with the company,” said Williams. “I founded it in 1976.”
The company is made up of a diverse group of 12 professional dancers. Its mission is to produce and create contemporary modern dance through performances and educational programs that bring together different cultures and varying communities. There is no resident choreographer, but individual professionals are brought in for each piece.
“The average dancer stays with a dance company for four or five years. I have some that have been here for six or seven,” Williams said.
The program for the weekend performance includes “Lost in Memory” by Neijka Y. Yatkin, “Polarity” by Richard A. Freeman, Jr. and “His Grace” by Christopher Huggins“ and will end with the entire company carrying out the movement of Simone’s life in “The Nina Simone Project.” This show at the Publick Playhouse by the Dallas Black Dance Theatre was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project.
As a precursor for the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s residency, the Publick Playhouse introduced their “Out and About” series with a Nina Simone-inspired flash mob at the National Harbor choreographed by Tuluv Maria Price on Saturday, April 19.