Every fall the Dance Council of North Texas and local dance community come together to celebrate the accomplishments of those individuals whose lifelong commitment and passion to dance have changed lives and enhanced the art form in North Texas. The 2013 Dance Council Honors will be held at Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Sept. 29, 2013, and includes performances by selected Dance Council scholarship recipients as well as a reception and silent auction featuring arts-related items and theater ticket packages. This year’s Dance Council Honorees are:
Ann Etgen and Bill Atkinson – Mary Bywaters Award for Lifetime Contribution to Dance
The husband-and-wife team of Bill Atkinson and Ann Etgen is truly a Dallas institution. Each had extensive professional ballet careers in New York, Canada, and South America before coming to Dallas. Etgen was a member of the New York Metropolitan Ballet Company and Atkinson has performed with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Ballet AAA. In addition to maintaining the Etgen-Atkinson Ballet School and directing the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet, Etgen has also served on the Dance Panel of Texas Commission on the Arts and Humanities and both have held offices in Regional Dance America/Southwest (RDA/SW). Their dancers have joined the ranks of many professional ballet companies, including the New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Berlin Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet, Ballet Wallonie of Belgium, Hamburg Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet and others.
Nycole Ray – Natalie Skelton Award for Artistic Excellence
A Detroit native, Nycole Ray graduated from The California Institute of the Arts with a BFA in dance. She received additional training at the California State Summer School of the Arts, Wayne State University and as an exchange student at the London Contemporary Dance School in England. Ray has performed with the Bruce Wood Dance Project, Walt Disney World Entertainment, Christopher and Friends directed by Christopher L. Huggins, the Lula Washington Dance Theater, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II and the Zadonu African Dance Company. This year marks Ray’s 16th season with Dallas Black Dance Theatre and her 4th season as the artistic director of DBDT II. In 2011, Ray received the Artful Dancewear Teachers Scholarship through The Dance Council of North Texas to continue her studies and has been accepted as a candidate to receive her certificate as a certified Dunham Technique Instructor.
Solomon Espie – Larry White Dance Educator Award
An Ohio native, Solomon Espie graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in physical education. He taught for the Columbus Public Schools and was an assistant track and field coach at OSU before moving to Dallas in 1985. It was his daughter who encouraged Espie to take a ballet class at Dallas Black Dance Academy and the experience would lead him to start the Lisbon Elementary School “Character Counts” Dance Company. Over the years, the Dance Company has performed nationally and across Texas. Currently, Espie serves as President of the Board of Trustees of ARGA NOVA DANCE/Beckles Dancing Company where they have initiated a Resident Artists Program at the W. E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy.
Sharen Bradford – Mary Warner Award for Outstanding Contribution to Dance
Sharen Bradford is a successful dance photographer whose interest in capturing dance on film began when she received a 35mm camera from her father. Bradford has also studied dance with Dottie Hunt and has a BFA and MFA in dance from Southern Methodist University. She was the Executive Director of Allen Street Photography Gallery and taught photography classes for SMU’s School for Continuing Education. She is also the owner of The Dancing Image and has photographed dance companies, including the Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet, Bruce Wood Dance Company/Bruce Wood Dance Project, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, TITAS and more. Her work has appeared in Popular Photography, Dance, Pointe and Dance Spirit magazines, The Dallas Morning News and TheaterJones.com.
Peggy McCaslin – Texas Tap Legend
Peggy McCaslin began her training at the age of 10 at the Ballet Academy and is currently celebrating her 42nd year of teaching. After receiving her BFA from Texas Christian University in 1972, McCaslin taught at The Wilshire Academy of Dance under the direction of Mary Wilcox and Pam Sparks. The studio became the Dallas Ballet Center in 1987 and McCaslin established the DBC Tap Connection in 2002. The Tap Connection has appeared in numerous National Tap Day events and tap festivals, including The Rhythm Junkies’ ‘Everything On Tap’ festival and The Drawbacks Youth Tap Ensemble. DBC owner Judy Klopfenstein says, “Peggy’s choreography is classy, creative, clean and smooth. From five year olds to adults, Peggy’s attention to detail makes the difference between good and excellent!”
The 2013 Dance Council Honors is slated for Sept. 29, 2013, at 2pm at the Dallas Black Dance Theatre. More information is available at www.thedancecouncil.org.
◊ Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance instructor in Dallas. Visit her blog at www.kddance.wordpress.com