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Founder & Artistic Director of the world-renowned Dallas Black Dance Theatre,
Williams is a TWU Distinguished Alumna and former university regent whose achievements are extraordinary


Ann WilliamsDallas, Texas – April 30, 2008 – Texas Woman’s University (TWU) will honor Ann Williams, the founder and artistic director of the world-renowned Dallas Black Dance Theatre, with an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Dance at spring commencement on May 10 (Saturday). The ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. in Pioneer Hall, Bell Avenue at University Drive, on the TWU Denton campus.

Williams is a graduate of Prairie View A&M University and earned a Master of Arts Degree in Dance and Related Arts from Texas Woman’s University. She is a TWU Distinguished Alumna, a former member of the university’s Board of Regents and the TWU Foundation, and a past president of the TWU Former Students Association. In September 2002, she was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame, and in April 2005 she was honored at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as a part of the Masters of African-American Choreography series. She also has been honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“It is rare for TWU to award an honorary degree,” said Dr. Ann Stuart, TWU Chancellor and President. “Ann Williams has made profound contributions in the arts and is most deserving of this prestigious recognition – one of the highest commendations the university can confer on an individual. Her work embodies the mission of TWU, providing opportunities for students; advancing education in the arts and humanities; and serving this community and beyond. With an international reputation, Ann Williams continues to bring distinction and prominence to the university.”

Recipients of an honorary degree from TWU must demonstrate genuine achievement in an activity consonant with the university’s mission. Nominations are made by faculty, staff or members of the TWU Board of Regents, and an advisory committee reviews the nominations and makes a recommendation to the chancellor of the university.

Founded in 1976 by Williams, the Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) creates and produces contemporary modern dance at its highest level of artistic excellence through performances and educational programs that bridge cultures and reach diverse communities. For 32 years, Ms. Williams has led the Dallas Black Dance Theatre from what began as a community-based and semi-professional organization to a full professional dance company with an international reputation. It is the oldest, continuously operating professional dance company in Dallas.

Ann Williams has received numerous awards and honors. She serves on the Board of Directors of Texas Ballet Theater and The International Association of Blacks in Dance. She is a dance consultant and has served as a dance panelist for numerous organizations such as the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs, Texas Commission on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Paralleling her artistic mission is Williams’ educational mission. Her goal to bring dance to diverse audiences throughout the City of Dallas can be seen in the highly successful outreach programs of DBDT. Each year more than 20,000 Dallas ISD children have had the opportunity to learn about dance, through workshops, classes, lecture-demonstrations, and performances.

“I am deeply honored to receive this Honorary Degree from Texas Woman’s University,” said Ann Williams. “When asked why I chose to continue my education at TWU in 1968, my response has always been, ‘because Texas Woman’s University has the best Dance Department in the United States.’ This statement still holds true today. TWU is tops if you want a career in Dance Education. The training I received at TWU was the beginning of my career ‘providing opportunities for students to receive dance training and to experience dance as a true art form.’”

Ms. Williams was nominated by Dr. Penelope Hanstein and Dean Ann Staton. Members of the Advisory Committee were: Dr. Jennifer Martin, Ms. Carolyn Ishee, Dr. Kyle Biggerstaff, Dr. Bettye Myers, Dr. Patti Hamilton, Dr. Mike Wiebe, Ms. Paloma Rizo, Dr. Janice LaPointe-Crump and Dr. Marie-Anne Demuynck.

Previous honorary degree recipients include: Nelda C. Stark, honorary doctor of laws degree (1957); Mary Gibbs Jones, honorary doctor of laws degree (1958); Edith Alderman Deen, honorary doctor of letters degree (1959); Lady Bird Johnson, honorary doctor of laws degree (1964); Marcella Perry, honorary doctor of laws degree (1976); Lucile Petry Leone, honorary doctor of laws degree (1979); Marie M. Clay, honorary doctor of humane letters degree (2003); Richard E. Wainerdi, honorary doctor of laws (2004); and Kaye Stripling, honorary doctor of humane letters degree (2005).

“Ms. Williams’ community outreach and dance advocacy agenda echoes the mission of the TWU’s Department of Dance,” said Dr. Penelope Hanstein, director of the TWU School of the Arts. “Her programs and the scope of their implementation are exemplars of the kinds of initiatives we hope our students, through their dance educations at TWU, will aspire to create.”

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Dallas Black Dance Theatre celebrates its 32nd season as the oldest, continuously operating professional dance company in Dallas. The ensemble, a contemporary modern dance company, consists of 12 professional, full-time dancers performing a mixed repertory of modern, jazz, ethnic and spiritual works by nationally and internationally known choreographers. Over the course of its history, DBDT has performed for 1.5 million arts patrons worldwide (40,000 of which were children). To keep up with demand and continue to serve its local community, Ann Williams formed DBDT II, the second performing company of Dallas Black Dance Theater.

This semi-professional company consists of 12 aspiring artists from around the nation. Since its inception, DBDT II has grown in popularity and thrilled audiences with its fresh allure. DBDT is located at 2700 Flora St.,on the corner of Ross Ave. & Arts Plaza in the Downtown Dallas Arts District. The company is closing out its $10.5m Capital Campaign that has renovated its new Arts District home, the historic former Moorland YMCA. Additional information is available at www.dbdt.com.

Texas Woman's University occupies a notable position in higher education as the nation’s largest university primarily for women. Its campuses in Denton, Dallas and Houston are joined by an e-learning campus that offers innovative online degree programs in business, education, nursing and general studies. Six consecutive years of enrollment growth have produced a record enrollment of 12,183. TWU serves the citizens of Texas in a number of important ways, including: producing more new nurses and health care professionals than any other university in Texas, helping ease the teacher shortage by placing highly qualified professionals in the classroom, offering a liberal arts-based curriculum that prepares students for success in an increasingly global world, and conducting research that impacts the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, osteoporosis, stroke and diabetes. For more information, visit www.twu.edu or call (940) TWU-2000.


Media Contact:
Elizabeth Lenart
VGS Marketing Group

Page last updated January 22, 2009

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