Dallas Black Dance Theatre performs for the first time in its new home in the Wyly Theatre on Wednesday night. For the company’s only Dallas native, that distinction holds special meaning. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports:
- Listen to the KERA radio story by clicking the audio player below:
- Online version:
After a small performance last week, the12 members of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre company stood in a line and stepped forward one by one to introduce themselves.
Most of them grew up in places like New York and D.C. And they trained with a who’s who of dance programs: The Alvin Ailey School, the Joffrey Ballet School, the Martha Graham School, and so on.
Then there’s Katricia Eaglin’s resume: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and a degree in dance from the University of North Texas.
EAGLIN: “The institutions that these other people came from are very reputable. They’re well-known. And we’re all dancing in the same company. Which is saying that I was trained to basically be on the same level as them. Which is saying that Dallas can produce great artists.”
Eaglin is the only Dallas native in the company. And her training is as home grown as she is. In addition to her formal education, she’s danced in Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s second company and attended its academy.
And she says she didn’t miss a thing by staying home.
EAGLIN: “The teachers that they had, I had them, too. The choreographers that they had, I had them, too. Because Milton Myers, Christopher Huggins, Bella Lewitzki, all those people stopped by Arts Magnet. And they’d come by Dallas Black. And I made myself available.”
Which is not to say securing a spot in her home-town company was easy.
Eaglin, who is 28 years old, says she first saw the company when she was 11 or 12. They performed the Marvin Gaye Suite, and Eaglin knew right then she wanted to be on stage with them. She couldn’t believe those performers practiced just up the street.
In high school, she got her foot in the door by taking classes with the company. Later, she taught children at the troupe’s academy. Then, more classes and a place with the second company. Eaglin auditioned four times before landing a spot with the main company.
She remembers that moment vividly.
EAGLIN: “I felt like how the first astronauts felt when they were like, ‘You’re going to go to the moon.’ And it’s like ‘Really? Are you sure? I passed all the tests? I’m really going to the moon?’ I don’t think it really sunk in until we auditioned and Ms. Williams said, ‘Katricia, will you accept a contract?’ And I’m thinking to myself, ‘Are you kidding? Yeah, girl!’ And I was like, keeping my composure: ‘Yes, ma’am, I would love to have a contract with Dallas Black, thank you very much.’”
Ann Williams offered Eaglin that contract. She is the artistic director and founder of Dallas Black Dance Theatre:
WILLIAMS: “In Katricia’s case, it’s an earned opportunity that she got. To have someone from the arts magnet, and to have some one that has been a member of Dallas Black Ddance Theatre for a number of years – from the academy, to come up through there, is really a great plus.”
Now, Eaglin and her fellow performers are ready to leave their old home at the Majestic Theatre. Their new home is the Wyly Theatre in the Arts District. With fewer seats, the Wyly is more intimate, and it was constructed with dance in mind.
EAGLIN: “I went into the Majestic knowing the history of the Majestic. And it’s exciting to go into the Wyly, because we’re going to be the history of the Wyly.”