In early August 2021, Dallas Black Dance Theatre made history at Jacob’s Pillow, the venerated “dance center of the nation” that uses the Berkshires as its open-air backdrop. DBDT premiered a dance by celebrated choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie as the first-ever recipient of the Joan B. Hunter New Work Commission.
Like other performing arts organizations in Dallas, DBDT found new ways to remain busy during the pandemic, with Young estimating they always had at least two (often virtual) events running at any one time. Now that live, in-person performance is returning, Young has been adamant that the company continue to offer streaming options. After all, DBDT’s online performances were viewed in 12 countries outside of the U.S., and across 30 states within it.
“The pandemic has pushed us into a place of discovery and uncovering new facets of how we present the art. We are excited we are able to move forward with performances in person, but we did not want to close our virtual doors on anyone,” Young says. “We hope to remain on people’s virtual to-do list.”
There are two productions in particular that Young is looking forward to, and one happens to be the Dallas debut of DBDT’s Jacob’s Pillow triumph, LIKE WATER, at the Director’s Choice in November at the Wyly Theatre. Moultrie, who has choreographed for DBDT only once before but made “an indelible impression on the dancers and their careers,” says Young, reveals in his program notes the inspiration behind the piece: “The work is created in celebration of our resilience. We’ve been through a lot, but we take flight. We celebrate the ground we stand on and each second we’re here. LIKE WATER, we can’t survive without love, compassion, and human connection.”
Young notes that the dance was created with the Pillow’s famous open-air environment in mind, so it will be thrilling to see how it translates to a traditional indoor theater with dramatic lighting to further enhance the ambiance.“Art is a reflection of the time, certainly, but I think art is more a reflection of who you are,” Young says. “I’m trying to lovingly convince people that dance is something that needs to be a part of your self-care routine. It evokes feelings that you didn’t expect. The moment that you let your guard down and realize that dance is for everyone, you’re going to learn more about yourself.”