Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Fifth Annual “The Big Dance” Finds Chart Topping Success With The Motown Sound – Over $100,000 Raised to Benefit The Dallas Black Dance Academy!

(Featured photo: Presidential Scholars, Melissa M. Young, Ann M. Williams)*

Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s (DBDT) annual fundraiser, The BIG Dance, took place on June 1st at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The Motown-themed event, supported by Honorary Chair Erykah Badu and co-chaired by Tiffaney D. Hunter (Tiffaney Dale Agency, LLC) and Ebonie Hughey Jackson (Bank of America), was not only a resounding success but also brought together the Dallas community for a night of dance and celebration.

Ebonie Hughey Jackson, Kristi Nelson, Tiffaney D. Hunter*

Featuring live performances throughout the evening by Jordan Kahn’s Manhattan Orchestra and captivating dance vignettes, guests were transported back to the golden age of Motown with classic soul tunes and line dance lessons from the era that concluded with a party-wide Soul Train line!

The groove-filled night began with a pre-event dinner where guests were greeted by co-chairs Tiffaney D. Hunter and Ebonie Hughey Jackson. Dinner guests included Jennifer and Keith Cerny, Kathleen and Craig Davis, Marena and Roger Gault, Terrence Maiden, Tim Maiden, Jewel and Roland Parrish, Mrs. Rozene Pride, Dr. Harry Robinson, Jr., Jennifer and Andy Scripps and Linda and Dr. Frederick Todd II.

The menu included a selection of blackened salmon, red wine braised short ribs and the Meyerson’s signature chocolate bread pudding. While attendees dined, a live cocktail trio set the tone amongst eye catching décor, including golden disco ball center pieces, iconic Hitsville blue accents, and an oversized light up Motown marquee.

As the party got underway, guests arrived in their best Motown Sleek and posed by a vintage 1965 Plymouth Convertible on their way inside, with endless sequins, feathers and glamorous attire as far as the eye could see passing under the larger-than-life Hittsville USA entrance façade, replicating the entrance of the historic Motown headquarters in Detroit. Dallas Black Dance Theatre Board Members Georgia Scaife, Boski Sharma, Mark Howard, Heidi Murray, Angela Chapman and Geralyn Richard helped set the tone of the evening as they arrived in style.

Sprinkled throughout the event space were unique photo opportunities including a 360 booth by Red Photo Booths and themed accessories at the Honey Bee Photo Booth. The Ashe cigar bar sponsor was also welcomed back to the Shirley & Bill McIntyre Park. Signature complimentary drinks were provided by Roxor Spirits, Smittox Brewing and Vector Brewing as attendees took a break from the dance floor. The owner of Smittox Brewing, Kuumba Smith, was in attendance to take in the sight of attendees enjoying the special craft beer he brewed exclusively for The BIG Dance, named Collective Rhythms.

Jordan Kahn’s Manhattan Orchestra led guests through a medley of hits from the Motown era, including genre-defining records from The Temptations, The Supremes, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The live band electrified the atmosphere, filling the dance floor with infectious energy as guests got down and embraced the soulful spirit of the evening.

Guests spotted on and around the dance floor were Shonn Brown and Maurice West, Chris Heinbaugh, Marissa and Michael Horne, Augustino Jalomo, Nadine Lee, Cheryl Richards, David Small, and Alice and Richard Stevenson.

Throughout the evening, Dallas Black Dance Theatre dancers dazzled the crowd with vibrant group vignettes. DBDT’s Richard A. Freeman, Jr. then took the experience up a notch, leading guests through groovy line dance lessons. As the night progressed, a Soul Train line opened up on the dance floor, giving participants a chance to showcase their best moves for a chance to win a pair of tickets for The BIG Dance 2025!

In honor of Dallas Black Dance Academy’s 50th Anniversary (DBDA), the event also honored nine Presidential Scholars who previously attended and were trained at the academy.

An honor reserved for the nations most distinguished graduating seniors, the Commission on Presidential Scholars only selects 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts each year. DBDT’s nine Presidential Scholars embody the mission and spirit of the Academy, with their first Presidential Scholar being recognized in 1980.

The evening’s emcee, three-time Emmy Award-winning NBC 5 news anchor Kristi Nelson was joined on stage by the founder of both Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Dallas Black Dance Academy, Ann M. Williams, to present certificates of recognition to the Presidential Scholars and their representatives to recognize their contribution to the legacy of DBDA

The honored Presidential Scholars included Milton T. Tatum (1980 Presidential Scholar), Dereque Whiters (1981 Presidential Scholar), Ramona Jackson (1983 Presidential Scholar), Carla Wattley (1985 Presidential Scholar), David Wilson (1987 Presidential Scholar), Courtney Blackwell (1998 Presidential Scholar), Vernon Gooden (2001 Presidential Scholar), My’Kal Stromile (2014 Presidential Scholar) and Jared Brown (2016 Presidential Scholar).

The BIG Dance was made possible by the generous support of The Eugene McDermott Foundation, the Maiden Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Locke Lorde and NBC 5.

The proceeds from The BIG Dance directly support Dallas Black Dance Academy’s mission of providing high quality dance education to students throughout the DFW Metroplex. Every year the funds raised allow for a 40% reduction in tuition fees for students enrolled in DBDA training programs, in addition to providing support to free in-school outreach programs for more than 3,000 K-12 students across the DFW Metroplex.

Since 2012, 100% of Academy seniors have graduated high school and been accepted to college, with many receiving scholarships to top dance programs like Juilliard. Additionally, DBDA graduates have been awarded talent scholarships to outstanding universities and colleges, with many have been chosen to perform in professional ballet, modern dance, and jazz companies throughout the United States and Europe, while many others are furthering dance education and teaching across the United States.

Donations for Dallas Black Dance Academy’s programs are still being accepted. For more information, visit dallasbigdance.com.

And don’t forget to mark your calendars for The BIG Dance 2025! Set to return to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, next year’s event is scheduled for June 7, 2025.

* Photo by Sylvia Elzafon
**Photo by Cassi G Photography

(Philanthropy Lifestyles gratefully acknowledges Dallas Black Dance Theatre as sponsor of this Scene post.)


Principal of Philanthropy Lifestyles (formerly SocialWhirl.com), the award-winning eBuzzNewsletter and Adams Communications Public Relations, a boutique PR firm specializing in media and community relations for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Sharon is also a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Dallas Business Journal, Katy Trail Weekly, People Newspapers (Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People/North Dallas People), Preston Hollow Life magazine, The Park Cities News, White Rock Lake Weekly, numerous blogs and websites and more.