Rooted in the African American experience, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company is a culturally diverse contemporary dance company committed to reaching the broadest audience through exceptional performance and arts-integrated education.
DCDC  Newsletter
April 10, 2020
Did You Know?
Here is a growing list of often unknown facts about DCDC.
  • As an international touring company, DCDC has, over the past two years, performed at The New Stage at The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, toured in China (the second tour to China since 2012), and toured to Kazakhstan. The company will perform in Bermuda on March 3, 2020 at the Bermuda Festival of the Arts.
  • DCDC is the oldest and continuously running African American arts organization in the Midwest, United States.
  • DCDC’s Sherri “Sparkle” Williams, who received the New York Dance and Performance Award (the Bessie), retires from the performance stage in the 2019-20 performance season after 46 years of performing. Ms. Williams' enjoyed one of the longest careers in dance performance.
  • DCDC has had ten straight years of balanced budgets (2009 through 2019).
Learning History
Through Dance
Portrait of Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) taken circa 1868 or 1869 by Benjamin F. Powelson. This image had been owned by Emily Howland and is the earliest known photo of the abolitionist. (Library of Congress). Title and logo added for current use.
DCDC’s mission is to bring great dance to the stage and outstanding education services to students in the classroom.

DCDC’s education services span a gamut of subjects, using movement to fortify learning in virtually any environment. Every year, DCDC reaches 30K to 35K youth in schools locally and while on tour. DCDC’s dancers serve as the instructors, who enter the classroom and other learning environments to enrich both teaching and learning.
But what about learning in the current time of social distancing? How can one enjoy dance performance and the joy of learning while at home? DCDC’s solution is to provide history lessons using YouTube videos to showcase DCDC’s classic dances from its vast repertoire. These videos provide a narrative to explain the connection between the dance and the historical content.
Digital and Social Media Analyst Christian Davell, who runs DCDC’s social media, created the videos and wrote the content for them. As Christian explains, I have a B.A. in Social Science Education, so it was fun to create history educational materials based on DCDC’s repertoire.
These videos were created not only as a resource for students and parents during the necessity for social distancing but also to diversify traditional American and World History curriculum. As a company rooted in the African American experience, it is also our responsibility to educate about that experience whether we are dancing about it in the classroom or expressing it through YouTube.
Currently, there are two samples. One concerns The Middle Passage. Using DCDC’s classic dance work Children of the Passage by Ronald K. Brown and the late Donald McKayle, the history of the slave trade is illuminated by the filmed performance.
For example, at one point, three women dancers form a temporary triangle as they move about one another in restless pacing. As the narrative describes, the triangle symbolizes The Middle Passage, which took Africans as slaves from Africa, shipped them like cattle to the Americas and Caribbean where their free labor created goods to be shipped for profit to Europe, which in turn provided for expenses to send more slave ships back to Africa.
In another segment, a colleague has died and is carried aloft with dignity and grace in a funeral procession. The others who hold up her body pay their rightful tribute to one of their number, who has perished under inhuman conditions. Yet, the procession also expresses the triumph of spirit and survival. You can access the YouTube video here.
Excerpt from DCDC's performance of Children of the Passage by Ronald K. Brown and the late Donald McKayle.
In another video, Donald Byrd’s J. Lawrence Paint (Harriet Tubman Remix) explores the life and courage of Harriet Tubman, the escaped slave who went back south nineteen times to bring other slaves to freedom and safety. The dance is based on the paintings of African American painter Jacob Lawrence.
In this video, Donald Byrd’s dance tells the story of Harriet Tubman taking life-threatening measures to free others. The theme of the video is 5 Facts About An Incredible Life. Rather than explain what the video teaches, you can watch it here.
Christian states, More videos will follow. When finished, I hope to bundle them with other educational resources so teachers can use these in their classrooms for years to come. You can find all our videos on our YouTube page.
New Ways To Reach You:
Our DCDC Family
In the “new normal” of social distancing, DCDC seeks novel ways to connect with you, our family—supporters, audiences, community leaders, partners, and newcomers (we welcome you!).
Those new ways are digital. As with this newsletter, we will communicate with you using our website, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
There will be a lot happening via social media at DCDC, and we need to let you know about it. Here is one activity:
An Art in Isolation series produced by Think TV/CET, which will include excerpts of performances by local performing arts companies like DCDC.
There are other exciting activities to be announced once they are finalized. For example, we are now considering streaming a dance competition with other professional dance companies, which includes Facebook “likes” to tabulate the winner.
For the near and long-term future, DCDC will use digital media to broadcast:
Exercise classes,
Dancer interviews,
Talks with dance artists,
Vlogs by DCDC’s Chief Executive Officer,
Vlogs by DCDC’s Chief Artistic Administrator and Producing Director,
Virtual events celebrating special people, and
Education videos.
We will also provide digital copies of DCDC’s annual reports, season brochures, and other publications. Vice President for Development, David Hoard, who oversees DCDC’s fundraising and marketing tasks, explains a deeper rationale for digital communication:
All companies must share their messaging with their constituents. Communication is the lifeblood of any corporate endeavor. It is not simply letting people know what we’re doing. It is our opportunity to let you know what services we have to offer. It’s not about us, it’s about you! DCDC serves the community (the local and international communities) with great dance art and first-rate education programming.
What if no one knew about these services? How do we continue to let people know what we offer—even after “social distancing” becomes a thing of the past? If we don’t announce what we do for you, our community, then are services remain unused. It would be like leaving a gift in a dark room for no one to see.
We need to get the word out. Doing so builds our community, ensures our services reach that community. Now more than ever, letting people know what we do for them is key for everyone’s success! If the world has gotten a little bit scarier, we will bring comfort through our art and engagement activities.
Above all, people in the world must know that we are there for them. Our purpose is to bring a little more light to their lives. Our services and the way we deliver them using digital means will help make “social distancing” more bearable. Whatever adaptations we need to make in our new reality unfolding before us, DCDC will always find a way to reach out, heal, and make stronger.
Please be on the lookout for our bi-weekly newsletter and any other digital means we use to keep you—our DCDC family—connected with us.
Be safe and stay well!

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Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
840 Germantown Street
Dayton, OH 45402