Beatrice E. Davis-Williams
A dance artist, a dance educator, and a dance school owner and director, who for the past 36 years has used dance as a tool to help hundreds of Washington-area youth cultivate an enduring love of the arts while developing values such as a thirst for excellence, self-confidence, perseverance, and team spirit.
In 1969, Mrs. Davis-Williams founded the Davis Center, a dance school that offers training in a wide variety of classical and contemporary dance forms to students ranging in age from 2-years-old to young adulthood. Many of the youth who have attended the Davis Center over the years have done so through generous scholarships personally underwritten by Mrs. Davis-Williams.
The Davis Center has long stood out among Washington-area dance schools because it not only provides its students with a strong foundation in the performing arts, but it also teaches them the importance of caring for others through ongoing community service projects. Several times a year, Mrs. Davis-Williams' students collect and distribute food, clothing, money, toys, and school supplies to children and families both locally and abroad. Her students also regularly share the joy of dance with residents of nusrsing homes, hospitals, churches, and community centers throughout the Washington metropolitan area.
Mrs. Davis-Williams' boundless creativity and generosity are also evident in the field trip program she operates through the Davis Center. Over the years Mrs. Davis-Williams has taken scores of students to live performances, exhibits, and educational lecutres at theatres and museums in and around Washington, New York, and other places. Mrs. Davis-Williams has even taken her students on an educational exploration of Senegal and the Gambia in West Africa. While there, her students took master classes from members of the Senegalese National Ballet and performed concerts showcasing American forms of artistic dance.
Mrs. Davis-Williams has also made a point of teaching her students social graces through etiquette training, wisely recognizing that such skills can greatly assist youth in their career endeavors.
Believing that all youth benefit from arts education, Mrs. Davis-Williams has always found ways to provide educational experiences to youth other than those enrolled in her dance school. One example of this is seen in the many special performances for school children that Mrs. Davis-Williams has staged over the years at Howard University's Cramton Auditorium. Thousands of youth have attended these biennial productions, and, in addition to enjoying the performances, these students have had the opportunity to learn about different styles of artistic dance from the entertaining study guides prepared for them by Mrs. Davis-Williams.
As if her work founding and directing the Davis Center has not been enough, Mrs. Davis-Williams has enhanced the lives of residents of the Washington area through many other forms of service. Mrs. Davis-Williams served as member of the dance faculty at Howard University for over a decade. Mrs. Davis-Williams also has served as a commissioner on the D.C. Commission for the Arts and Humanities; a dance consultant to the District of Columbia Public Schools; a dance therapist at the Oak Hill Youth Detention Center; Chairperson of the Advisory Board of the Washington Center for Aging Services; Chairperson of the Arts and Humannities Committee of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Continental Societies, Inc.; National Youth Coordinator of the Lambda Kappa Mu Business and Professional Women's Sororoity, Inc., and as a board member of both Erika Thimey Dance & Theatre, Inc. and the Sutradhar Dance institute.
Mrs. Davis-Williams is an active member of the Theta Chapter, Lambda Kappa Mu Sorority, Inc.; the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Continental Societies, Inc.; the Washington, D.C. Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; the Otero B. Tymous Chapter of Daughters of the King, Church of Our Savior, Washington, D.C.; and she is a Fellow in the prestigious Cecchetti Council of America.
Most recently in October 2005, Mrs. Davis-Williams was presented the "Living Legend Award" by the Pastor's Aid Society of Second Baptist Church, Washington, D.C. Earlier recognition of her extraordinary contributions to Washington, D.C., include the Greater Washington Urban League's Whitney M. Young, Jr. Community Service Award (2001); the American Business Women's Association Community Volunteer Service Award (1997); the District of Columbia Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Award (1977); the Howard University Institute of Urban Affairs and Research International Women's Year and Bicentennial Celebrations Awards (1976).
Mrs. Davis-Williams received her bachelor's degree from Federal City College. She also holds a Master's Degree in Physical Education and Advanced Certificate in Education Administration from Howard University and has earned a substantial number of credits toward a Ph.D. in Educational Pyschology from Howard University. Mrs. Davis-Williams and her husband Thomas C. Williams reside in Northeast Washington, D.C.
Jasmine Artis has been a performer for as long as she can remember, but decided to seriously pursue dance upon entering the University of Maryland in fall 2003. There she co-founded Dynamic Dance Team in the spring of 2004. As a dancer and choreographer for the team she helped lead them to win 2nd place at the East Coast Dance competition in 2005, the team's first year at the competition. Jasmine became a member of Culture Shock DC in February 2006. She graduated from Maryland in spring 2006 with a BS in Kinesiology Science and since then, she has made the dance community a huge part of her life. Jasmine is also studying Massage Therapy with the intent of going back to school, at some point, for a PhD in Bioknesiology and Biomechanics. She is currently the artistic director of Mini Shock DC and is so excited and humbled to see so many amazing young people grow and develop as dancers and individuals. She also dances for Contradiction Dance, a local contemporary company, and Capitol Movement Inc. Not bound by the dance world, she loves sports, singing, acting and musical theatre. She is interested in inspiring people to chase their dreams...fall, fail, cry, love, and keep pushing through the stuggle because it is only then that we can find true fulfillment.
Nkosi Ayize "Mr. Eric"
A native Washingtonian, Nkosi has been teaching at the Davis Center since 1997. He currently teaches gymnastics, acrobatics and Capoeira. A professor of Capoeira Angola, Nkosi was trained in martial arts, acrobatics, and African-Brazilian Dance by Masters Nego Gato and Pete Jackson. He has conducted workshops and performances throughout the Washington metropolitan area.
Margareta Eysel is an accomplished choreographer, instructor and dancer. She has performed nationally and internationally for the past 12 years. Margareta has been working professionally with the hip hop dance troupe Culture Shock for nine years, and is one of the founders of Culture Shock Washington DC. Not only does Margareta teach classes in the metropolitan area at dance studios such as Strathmore Hall for City Dance and the Davis Center, she also gives frequent workshops in Europe at renowed studios such as Pineapple Studios in England and Colombo Dance Factory in Switzerland.
A former student at the Davis Center, Sydney is in her first year as a member of the center's faculty. During her close to 15 years as a Davis Center student, Sydney performed in numerous recitals, as well as dozens of other Davis Center dance performances. She played the role of the Fairy Godmother in the center's 2002 production of "Cinderella" and was the Davis Center's 2000, 2001 and 2002 L'Etoile (star dancer). Sydney graduated magna cum laude from Hampton University in May 2007. A grade five Cecchetti ballet level, she currently teaches ballet at the Davis Center.
Laurice discovered the Davis Center at the age of five when she was intrigued by a dog in the center's window as she was walking by. Shortly after that Laurice became a Davis Center student and 25 plus years later she is still a part of the center as a member of its faculty. Laurice, who teaches tap, says she loves making children "happy with the feet". Her caring attitude has led her to a career in the medical field. When not teaching dance, Laurice is a certified emergency medical at Georgetown University Hospital.
Latoya has been a natural dancer since birth. Raised in West Virginia in a music and dance loving family, she and her cousins would watch music videos and mimic the movements of artists such as Janet Jackson and Jennifer Lopez. Latoya expanded her knowledge of dance by taking a variety of dance classes - from jazz to liturgical - at Livingstone College in Salisbury N.C. She was one of the premier dancers for the college's marching band. Latoya took a belly dancing class and it was love at first sight. She has performed regularly with Schacana and D.I.V.A. (Belly dance Troupe).
Brandon T. Todd
Brandon began taking tap classes at the Davis Center during the summer of 1993. Six years later, her joined the faculty of the center as a tap instructor. A native of the District of Columbia, Brandon has performed in over 50 Davis Center productions, ranging from dance recitals to community events and National Tap Dance Day. Brandon serves a Special Assistant to Ward Four D.C. City Councilmember Muriel Bowser. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication-Public Relations from Bowie State University and is presently pursuing his Master's in Business Administration at Trinity University in Washington D.C.
Tap dancer Baakari Wilder has had an astounding career. A native Washingtonian, Baakari was Savion Glover's replacement in the Broadway production of "Bringin 'da Noise, Bringin 'da Funk" in New York City. At the age of twelve he opened the show at the Kennedy Center for legendary tappers Harold Nicholas, Sandman Simms, Brenda Buffalino and Savion Glover. Baakari studied tap under Glover, Gregory Hines, Yvonne Edwards and Renee Kreithen, and has delighted audiences in places such as Germany, Africa, Japan and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Baakari also has a list of television appearances to his credit, including the 1996 and 1997 Tony Awards. He is currently teaching in the Washington D.C. area and just finished choreographic a piece for D.C.'s own "Tappers With Attitude", the company in which he was the original dance captain.