Mahogany Dance Theatre of Texas is a non-profit organization tracing its origins back to 1978, when young artists gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center to bring their vision of cultural art to South Dallas.
Since then, the program has grown into a family which challenges its members to challenge themselves; to rise out of the afflictions of inner-city life and love and respect themselves and others. Mahogany is not just about dance. It's about artistic expression, individual potential and embracing the community.
Children dance before they speak.
...Before they walk.
Before they realize the difference between the sounds of daily life and the poetry of formal music.
- Vann J. Gilbert
Our name has a meaning that is special to us. Not only does it represent the names of figures that have served as Mahogany's inspirational guides, but it also extends a hand to those who might be desperately in need of encouragement. Inspiration is our drive, and it comes to us from above, from all around us and from deep within us.
Vann J. Gilbert
Passionate about dance since childhood, Dr. Vann Gilbert spent his years at Booker T. Washington High School dreaming of opening a community dance company. Combining this passion with a commitment to utilizing dance as a tool to help children and youth overcome the challenges they face daily and succeed against the odds has led to his reputation as the "doctore of dance" because of his unique skill in developing discipline, self-respect and artistic skill for at-risk children.
Dr. Gilbert, as he is known, is a professional dancer and specializes in teaching and performing a broad spectrum of dance and music genres, including ballet, jazz, liturgical praise dance and swing. He received a scholarship to the Dallas Civic Ballet and begain his professional education and training.
Dr. Gilbert founded Mahogany Dance Theatre of Texas in 1978. His vision for the company was two-fold: to provide a performance company for the impoverished communities of Dallas and to open an academy where young people could learn the fundamentals of dance. Such strong dedication led him to forgo professional opportunities from various acclaimed dance companies including famed Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Alvin Dance Company.
Dr. Gilbert is well-respected throughout the Dallas community as a teacher of the arts and for his demonstrated ability to develop artistic skills in hundreds of children and youth. Many of which have gone on to college and others who pursued dance as their profession, including former student Erkayh Badu.
Today, hundreds of students have studied under Dr. Gilbert's direction. For over 20 years, he has provided an oasis for children in at-risk environments and distressed communities with his company's professional dance education.