Arts in Urban Education™ Program History
Founded in 1978 by Vann Gilbert, the Theatre's artistic director, Mahogany Dance was established as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. The Dance Theatre is passionate and committed to using the art of dance as a powerful outreach tool to help focus youth in at-risk environments torwards self-discipline, artistic skill, and moral development.
An increasing number of local community-based organizations including, but not limited to, Girls, Inc., the Park South YMCA, St. Anthony Community Center, Townview, retain MDT because of its success and popularity in building self-discipline and self-expression in youth.
Over the years many such youth have participated in the junior company and performed in schools, special events, and annual festivals throughout the city; several have become successful adult artists as well as outstanding citizens. Some have returned to share their testimony and become part of the principle company. Including alumni attending New York based ulliard School, in addition to famed artist Erykah Badu.
In 2008, Founder and Artistic Director, Vann Gilbert developed Arts in Urban Education™, a series of dance education components which incorporates 30+ years in professional dance, choreography, and instruction; resulting in empowered youth through the art of dance.
The Amazing Grace Dance Program is designed to engage elementary, middle, and high school age children in the art of dance. The program incorporates the fundamentals of ballet, modern, and rythmic dance while teaching youth about the Civil Rights Movement by placing them within the backdrop of the soul stirring spirituals and gospel music that fueled and energized people of that day. Moving beyond the world of dance, the program is supplemented by the screening of professionally prepared documentaries about the movement. This visual component gives a first hand look at the history of racial injustice that drove the determination, the unity the triumph that led to the freedom of a people.