When she got the phone call in May about a $3 million gift from billionaire MacKenzie Scott, Denise Saunders Thompson, president of the International Association of Blacks in Dance, fell on the floor.
Then she got up to dance.
“I think I did a couple of turns and a few kicks,” Thompson says, “and I definitely did a leap, for sure.”
It was “one for the ancestors,” she says in a recent phone interview, reflecting on this award in light of IABD’s three decades of preserving and promoting the works of Black dance artists. Helping ballet schools and out-of-work artists survive was, for obvious reasons, tougher than usual this year, until now. Thompson’s D.C.-based nonprofit was one of seven dance institutions to receive large, unasked-for funds in the most recent round of donations by Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett.