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The International Association of Blacks in Dance In Partnership with Collage Dance Collective Will Honor the Bluff City Cluster of the LINKS Incorporated, The Jenkins Family Foundation, and Tommie-Waheed Evans At The 34th Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance

January 24 @ 8:00 AM - January 28 @ 5:00 PM

The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) in partnership with Collage Dance Collective will honor the Bluff City Cluster of the LINKS Incorporated, The Jenkins Family Foundation, and Tommie-Waheed Evans at the 34th Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance, Can’t Turn You Loose: A Love Letter to Black Dance, being held on January 24-28, 2024 in Memphis, Tennessee. These distinguished honorees are highly respected for their professional accomplishments.Their outstanding achievements and contributions have advanced the art of dance, enhanced our rich cultural landscape, and inspired audiences, artists, and local communities. They will be acknowledged and honored for their service during A Blues’ for Memphis, the Founders and Invited Guests performance presentation at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday, January 28, 2024. For more information and to purchase tickets for the performance, visit https://conference.iabdassociation.org/

Bluff City Cluster of the LINKS Incorporated: Distinguished Leadership Award

Distinguished Leadership Award This award honors excellence in distinguished leadership for the local arts community. The work of this individual is mission aligned with the partner organization while demonstrating unwavering community leadership, support, and dedication. They have been selected for their significant, tangible leadership contributions to the Collage Dance Collective as well as their ability to make a difference in the lives of those they have helped.

The Bluff City Cluster (TN) of the LINKS Incorporated The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of more than 17,000 professional women of African descent in 299 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.

The core values are friendship, integrity, honesty, service, commitment, family relationships, courage, respect for self and others, legacy, confidentiality, responsibility, and accountability. The members of The Links, Incorporated are influential decision makers and opinion leaders. The Links, Incorporated has attracted many distinguished women who are individual achievers and have made a difference in their communities and the world. They are business and civic leaders, role models, mentors, activists and volunteers who work toward a common vision by engaging like-minded organizations and individuals for partnership. Links members contribute more than 1 million documented hours of community service annually – strengthening their communities and enhancing the nation.

The Bluff City Cluster of the Links, Inc. consists of the Memphis (TN) Chapter founded in 1952, the Shelby County Chapter founded in 1985, and the River City Chapter founded in 1987.

The Jenkins Family Foundation: Reginald Van Lee Philanthropy Award

The Reginald Van Lee Philanthropy Award: This award honors an individual with a proven record of exceptional generosity who, through direct financial support, innovation, encouragement and motivation of others demonstrates outstanding civic and charitable responsibility. Their generosity encourages others to take philanthropic leadership roles on a community, national and/or international level.

The James R. & Anita Horne Jenkins Family Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to supporting work in underserved and diverse communities, primarily in Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Tennessee. We are especially committed to improving the health, welfare, and educational or otherwise positive development of people of color, people with disabilities, and veterans.

Founded in 2011 by James R. & Anita Horne Jenkins and Dr. Andrea Louise Jenkins. The Foundation serves as a vehicle through which the family strives to “stand in the gap” in communities important to them, especially for those marginalized by past and present circumstances and underserved by existing institutions, organizations, and groups. The concept of “standing in the gap” comes from the Bible, in Ezekial 22:30,during the proposed judgement of Jerusalem, when God looked for someone who would “build up the wall and stand before [Him] in the gap” on behalf of Jerusalem, someone who would do right by God and their community–as an intercessor–to help save the city and its people from destruction (also referenced in Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah). By applying the God-given resources they steward toward community needs through the foundation, the board as a whole seeks to ensure the relevance and effectiveness of their outreach, appreciating the structure and community engagement built into this form of philanthropy.

Tommie-Waheed Evans: Charles Augins Inspirational Artist Award

The Charles Augins Inspirational Artist Award is given to an artist who has deepened and extended dances’ value, including their ability to foster new connections and to exemplify creativity and innovation. This award recipient has demonstrated outstanding work as an entrepreneur, performer and educator across the country.

Tommie-Waheed Evans: 2021 Guggenheim Fellow Tommie-Waheed Evans is a queer black dance maker, born and raised in Los Angeles, California, amidst racial divide, gang warfare, and earthquakes. His work explores blackness, spirituality, queerness and liberation. He began his formal training with Karen McDonald before receiving a fellowship at the Ailey School, and a Master of Fine Arts in Choreography from Jacksonville University. He has toured and performed nationally and internationally as a company member of Lula Washington Dance Theater, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Philadanco. Since 2004, he has created more than 50 original dance works that range widely in scope, length, tone and subject matter. Waheedworks, his Philadelphia based dance company, is the primary vehicle for his creative research. The company’s mission is to create a radically collaborative body of work that speaks to the human condition. His work brings together urban street dance styles and contemporary dance vocabulary through bold and raw movements propelled by gospel music and polyrhythmic sounds. He has also been commissioned to create works for BalletX, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, PHILADANCO, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Verb Ballets, Ballet Memphis, The University of the Arts, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Louisville Ballet, among others. He has received accolades and honors including Resident Fellow at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University, Princess Grace Honoraria Award in Choreography, New Music Project Grant, Howard Gilman Foundation Fellowship, Joffrey Ballet Winning Works, and recently a Dance Research Fellowship at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Tommie is currently the Artist-in-Residence at PHILADANCO and on faculty at the University of the Arts.

The 34th Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance is a pioneering four-day dance experience where attendees will engage in a multitude of invaluable opportunities expanding their understanding of dance history and technique through Conference and Festival programming that includes an awards celebration, social events, a membership townhall, performances and sessions . Now – 34 years later – the conference and festival draws thousands of people. All are invited to the conference and festival. The event is for everyone of all ages.

Black dance has been a container for black joy, black hurt, black love and black authenticity. At a time where the rights of people of color remain under attack, globally, it is intentional to hold space for the furtherment of Black dance in a landmark city of civil rights. This opportunity to engage in dialogue, discussion and discourse is the association‘s continued commitment to advocacy, artistry, and scholarship, says IABD Co-Executive Director, Omar Ingram.

This gathering of the national and international dance community is the perfect opportunity to learn from and share experiences with dance artists from around the world. The Conference and Festival engages each registrant to promote a vibrant future for dance. The curated programming is designed to make participants move, talk, learn & more:

● MOVE – Lecture demonstrations, Movement workshops, Midnight dance classes, and At the Feet of the Masters (A two-hour session focused on a specific style/technique of dance followed by a Q&A with a master teacher for intermediate and advanced dancers).

● TALK- Networking and Social Gatherings, Roundtables, and Workshops.

● LEARN- Digital Presentations, Films, Lectures, Panels and Performance Presentations.

● & More- The 2024 IABD Auditions, on the 1 | Memphis, a dance class series.

The 34th Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance is funded in part by: Ford Foundation; Howard Gilman Foundation; The Harkness Foundation for Dance; Mellon Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts, and many individual donors. The Conference and Festival is sponsored in part by: ARTSmemphis; Creative Studios by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings; Madison Square Garden Entertainment- The Radio City Rockettes; and Performing Arts Readiness.

About The International Association of Blacks in Dance

For over 30 years, The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) has preserved and promoted dance by people of African ancestry or origin and has assisted and increased opportunities for artists in advocacy, audience development, education, funding, networking, performance, philosophical dialogue, and touring. A National Medal of Arts recipient, IABD serves a diverse, national and international membership that spans cultures and generations. IABD’s vision is for dance, by people of African ancestry or origin, to be revered, respected, and preserved in the consciousness and cultural institutions of all people. Through its tireless efforts in the arts and culture sector, IABD validates the significant connections and influence that Blacks in Dance have on the American and international cultural landscape. IABD’s work is rich with insights, knowledge, and expertise vital to current and future Black Dance professionals and the dance sector at large. iabdassociation.org

About Collage Dance Collective

Recently named a “Southern Cultural Treasure” by South Arts, Collage Dance is one of the largest Black-led performing arts organizations in the South and one of a few professional ballet companies in the world with a roster of BIPOC dancers. Working to inspire the growth and diversity of ballet, its professional company, Collage Dance Collective, showcases a repertoire of relevant choreography and world-class dancers representative of the communities they serve. The professional company has presented thirteen full-length seasons in Memphis, plus national and international touring performing a diverse range of classical and contemporary choreography. Its institutional arm, the Collage Dance Conservatory, trains more kids of color in a classical art form than any other non-profit in the region. collagedance.org

The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists, arts patrons, and groups by the United States Government and honors exemplary individuals and organizations that have advanced the arts in America and offered inspiration to others through their distinguished achievement, support, or patronage. The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities and broadened our citizens’ engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects.