The Ones To Know: Ann Williams

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DALLAS (CBS11) – Ann Williams Way is a short boulevard on the eastern edge of downtown Dallas. But it is a highway of history merged by an intersection of art, culture and the street namesake’s dedication to education and dance.

Ann Williams founded the Dallas Black Dance Theatre in 1976.

For decades, she led a modern dance academy for minority children in the quest to expose them to dance as an art form.

DBDT is also the internationally renown performance company. Its repertory of jazz, contemporary, ethnic and modern dance has traveled the world as an artistic ambassador for Dallas.

This month, Williams received of the Texas Medal of Arts Award for her arts education commitment for the Lone Star State and her desire to maintain a shining monument of Dallas’ black history.

The former Moorland YMCA, now her company’s workspace, was created for black residents only.

The building sits one block from Dallas’ acclaimed Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

It’s the neighborhood Williams called her own as a child.

She taught swimming lessons inside the Moorland Y.

Today, the swimming pool area is a dance rehearsal room.

“I always wanted this place as our home, because it was a part of my home”, Williams explains.

Forty years after starting her dance academy, DBDT offers two touring companies and is the city’s dance arts showcase operating in the Arts District.

Ann Williams never expected to have a street named after her, but she did envision a dance company of excellence and acclaim.

Forty years of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and soaring high.

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