Dance company, headed by Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders '78, honored
As the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC), with CEO Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders ‘78, is entering its 48th season, it received some special news.
DCDC was announced as a winner of the 2016 Bessie Award for outstanding revival from the New York Dance & Performance Awards, honoring its performance of Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder.’ The award is considered the “Oscar” of the dance world, said Hawes-Saunders.
An article in the Dayton Business News notes:
“The Bessie honored DCDC ‘for giving a classic modern dance new and powerful life, transforming the mid-century portrayal of an African American prison chain gang into a searingly resonant cry for our current times, performed with humanity, craft, and beauty.’ Its performances of the dance took place at Lincoln Center in New York City earlier this year.
” ‘It’s definitely another feather in our cap; it comes at the perfect time for DCDC and organizations in our region as the economy is so good and growing,’ Hawes-Saunders said.
“DCDC shared the award with choreographer Donald McKayle and New York-based Paul Taylor American Modern Dance.
“Taylor invited the company to perform in New York earlier this year, and DCDC worked with McKayle for some time to perfect it. DCDC says the award will help heighten awareness of its craft.
“ ‘Typically dance companies and dancers outside of New York City don’t receive the award,’ said Crystal Michelle Perkins, associate artistic director for DCDC. ‘It’s almost unheard of.’”
“DCDC is kicking off its 48th season as it has sought to build its brand. It has assembled a strong leadership team with a greater awareness of business operations, and over two to three years it has been enhancing its studio facilities at the Central State University Dayton campus near downtown, Hawes-Saunders said.
“ ‘We’re creating world-class art and already people are starting to take notice,’ Hawes-Saunders said.
“DCDC has auditions every May with dancers coming in from all over the country, and the interest in working for the company has tripled, with it holding over 100 auditions, Hawes-Saunders said.
“Dancers want to dance in places where they think their artistry will be looked after, and the award speaks to the caliber of artists they expect to have there, Hawes-Saunders said.
”’ It’s important for a touring dance company in the Midwest, we’ve created our own dance Mecca here,’ she said. ‘It allows us to be very forward-thinking and allows us to have the visibility and recognition of who we are. We are not from the coast and yet we remain very relevant.’
“Now, the company says it is planning to host the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference in 2019, an event that could bring 500 to 600 people to the area, and artists from all over the country. The international dance conference came to Dayton over 30 years ago, and the Bessie recognition will help enhance the opportunity today for attendees, sponsorship and marketing, Michelle Perkins said.”