Debbie Allen brings dance to the White House

Courtesy of The Root

First Lady Michelle Obama invited Debbie Allen and 51 young black dancers to dance at the White House on Monday for Black History Month.

Allen is known as the cutthroat dance teacher Lydia Grant in the 1980 film she choreographed “Fame,” a role she reprised to a successful TV series on NBC.  

She has danced on many broadway productions such as “West Side Story,” “Sweet Charity” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Allen has earned three Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, five NAACP Image Awards, just to name a few. She was appointed by former President George W. Bush to represent the United States as a Cultural Ambassador of Dance.

Over the years Debbie has made a big impact on the black community when it comes to the arts. In 2001, Allen opened the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, Calif. Her  school offers dance classes for students ranging in ages from four to 18, no matter their financial status.

Debbie has impacted the black community. Young African-American dancers, like dancer at Denver Ballet Paul Anderson, said that Allen taught him it’s all about passion. He believes it was only fitting to Allen teaches an African dance class to young black dancers.

“She has taught me that dance isn’t a skin color but it’s a love and passion, and if you have both of those you will go far,” Anderson said.

The event recognized a variety of black dancers from all over. They learned choreography and rehearsed the same day in classes with Debbie Allen, Michael Jackson’s choreographer Fatima Robinson, Alvin Ailey Company dancers and Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Virginia Johnson.

Michelle Obama spoke on how much she respects and enjoys dance.

“Today is a very special day at the White House and it’s pretty special for me, personally, because I absolutely love dance,” Obama said. “I think it’s probably my favorite art form.”

Allen captured the dancers warming up in the White House on her social media accounts and posted several videos.

The performance was followed by a panel discussion which was led by Debbie Allen, Fatima Robinson and Michelle Obama.

Obama acknowledged the young dancers by letting them know how much of an impact they are making.

"We are excited to see you take your place," she said. "Not just on the stage but in the course of making change in this country. You all are our next generation."