To combat the isolation that COVID-19 has brought to many students, the Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) and Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) have teamed up to stream online dance performances throughout February for DISD students.

The collaboration allows students to learn and discover America’s rich cultural history through music and dance and promote equal access to the arts.

The first video featured is of DBDT’s highly-acclaimed work, ODETTA, available to DISD students for free through February 18 to celebrate Black History Month.

ODETTA was originally performed by DBDT on stage in 2019. It tells the story of Odetta Holmes, known as “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement,” who sang at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 during the March on Washington and in 1965 as Civil Rights activists marched from Selma to Alabama.

DBDT filmed a version of the performance last year against the backdrop of popular Dallas locations such as White Rock Lake, the Meyerson Symphony Center, the Trinity Groves area, the Dallas Design District, Bishop Arts District, and Bonton Farms.

The setting creates a unique experience specifically for Dallas students, who are all now able to access the work to see its reinvention from the stage to film. The video features the audio ten songs performed by Odetta, including “Motherless Child” and Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War.”

“It’s very important for my students to see that level of performance and know that it exists here in our community,” South Oak Cliff High School Dance and Drill Director Tatum Rogers told Originally, Rogers could only take forty students to see the show in person. Now all 150 of her students can see the performance.

“We are so excited to work with Dallas Summer Musicals on this ground-breaking opportunity to provide accessible arts education for students of every discipline and age in Dallas ISD. This initiative primarily serves to increase arts awareness, spark creativity, and inspire students that would not have been exposed to the art form of modern dance otherwise. We see this partnership as a benchmark in our continuing goal to make art accessible to every household in the nation,” Executive Director Zenetta S. Drew told The Dallas Express.