Theta Chapter Brings Dance to the Forefront
Durham, North Carolina- Theta Chapter doesn’t tip toe around giving the gift of Dance Education
DURHAM- Gamma Xi Phi, Theta Chapter brought together internationally recognized Black male dance educators and performers to discuss the past and potential of Black men in the world of dance September 24 during a virtual program.
The program, facilitated by Thomas F. DeFrantz, research professor in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University, featured a conversation between renowned dancers Willie Hinton and M. Clayton Barrier. The trio discussed the relevance and necessity of Black men being a force in the world of dance. Participants learned about the impact fellow Black male dancers made on them spotlighting local legends Chuck Davis and Mel Tomlinson and as well as their goals to encourage the next generation.
“The conversation was empowering and edifying. Our goal in bringing together members of a community engaged in the work of carrying on the legacy of Black men in dance was to raise awareness of the importance Black men play in the craft. The panelists achieved that and more,” La Toya Hankins, Gamma Xi Phi national secretary and Theta Chapter program director said.
A little about our key guest panelists for this event:
Hinton, a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and current instructor at Carolina Ballet in Raleigh, recalls his start in the world of dance at Enloe High School in Raleigh, NC when he dealt with the perception from fellow male students who were engaged in athletics while he participated in dance class. Their curiosity evolved into respect as they were able to view the work that went into his study thanks to his dance class located in a room over the high school gym featured a window for students to observe. Hinton obtained his first professional job shortly after college graduation and, since then, has performed with The Rebecca Kelly Dance Company and Dance Kaleidoscope. Hinton has also been engaged as an educator as Artist in Residence at North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University.
Panelist Barrier, a graduate of North Carolina Centra University, cites Hinton as one of the forces that has impacted his dance journey. The Durham native has created hundred individual choreographic works including a murder mystery piece he created that only the dancer tapped to be the murder knew the answer to the whodunnit. He currently serves as an educator at the Longleaf School of the Arts. He is also a member of the National Dance Educator Organization.
DeFrantz and panelists discussed the imposter syndrome of not believing in the strength of one’s talent, how support from fellow artists makes in success and the power of Black male involvement in the craft.
“Dance is a salad that everyone can eat from, and Blackness is just part of the expression. It is history, it is a form of documentation, and it is spiritual.” Hinton said.
The Black Men in Dance program event is part of the Gamma Xi Phi’s National Program of I SWEAR-Service, Wellness, Edification, Advocacy, and Recognition.
Gamma Xi Phi was established in 2010 at Ramapo College to provide a fraternal outlet for students engaged in the arts. Today it maintains a presence of working artists from Vancouver, British Columbia, to the northeastern and southern regions of the United States.