The Business Council for the Arts will proudly present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Ms. Ann M. Williams at this year’s Obelisk Awards. Williams was nominated by Ms. Zenetta Drew.
Drew -- Executive Director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre -- says “Ann Williams is a visionary extraordinaire who inspires everyone and everything she touches. She taught me that with passion, commitment, and hard work, your dreams are just unrealized realities.”
Ann M. Williams founded Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) in 1976. Now in its 45th anniversary year, Ms. Williams grew Dallas Black Dance Theatre from a community-based organization and a semi-professional organization to a fully professional dance company recognized as the fourth largest black dance company in the nation. DBDT tours annually throughout the state, nationally and internationally. During its history, the company has performed in 31 states, 16 countries and on 5 continents.
Most notable performances include two Cultural Olympiad appearances and performances for Queen Elizabeth II and President Nelson Mandela. DBDT has been recognized by the NEA as an American Masterpiece Touring Artist and has received the Texas Medal of the Arts Award for Arts Education.
The Dallas Black Dance Academy trains over 500 students weekly in classes of ballet, modern, jazz, tap, African and hip hop. The Academy has produced nine Presidential Scholars in dance including the first Presidential Scholar in dance in the nation in 1980.
In May of 2014, Ms. Williams officially retired as Artistic Director of the organization. She remains actively involved with the dance company as an emeritus member of the Board of Directors.
In addition to founding Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Ms. Williams is a founding member of the Dance Council of North Texas, the Advisory Board of the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and The International Association of Blacks in Dance.
Presently, Ms. Williams is an active dance consultant. She serves on the boards of The International Association of Blacks in Dance, Ursuline Academy of Dallas, and the Dallas Summer Musicals Management Group.
She is also a fine arts consultant to the Houston Energized for Excellence STEM Academies as well as a panelist for many city, state, and national agencies. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, The Links, Incorporated and a lifetime member of the NAACP.
Ms. Williams received her early dance training under Barbara Hollis (a member of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company), Edith James, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman. She received additional training under Alvin Ailey and Arthur Mitchell. Ms. Williams is a graduate of Prairie View A&M University and the first African American to earn a Master of Arts degree in Dance and Related Arts from Texas Woman’s University.
Ms. Williams was honored as a “distinguished alumna” by both universities and received an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Northwood University, and in May 2008 was awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Dance from TWU. She served six years on the Texas Woman’s University Board of 3 Regents.
She is a 2002 inductee into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame; and in April 2005, she was honored at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as a part of the Masters of African American Choreography series.
Katherine Wagner, CEO of Business Council for the Arts, says “It is a privilege to celebrate Ann Williams. She is a catalyst, an icon, and a role model.”
(The 33rd annual Obelisk Awards will be presented on Wednesday, November 17 at the Fairmont Dallas. Tickets and sponsorship information can be found here.)
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