WASHINGTON PARK — Joel Hall, co-founder of the Joel Hall Dance Center that has put on performances in Chicago and around the world for four decades, was recognized at the 14th Annual Black Excellence Awards Monday night.
Hall, 65, who has been dancing since the age of 19, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award at the DuSable Museum of African American History.
"This is beyond an honor," Hall said. "It's one thing to be recognized by the overall community, but it's particularly wonderful to be recognized in the arts community. Those are the people you're working with all of the time. Being recognized in the industry is important to every artist."
The non-profit dance center, now at 5965 N. Clark St., was started by Hall 40 years ago. It targets what it calls people "who may not otherwise be exposed to the arts" by providing dance classes that incorporate ballet, jazz, modern, funk and street styles.
The dance center's company has been performed in New York, London, Scotland and the former Soviet Union. An accomplished choreographer who grew up in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood, Hall served as an international ambassador for Chicago arts in the administration of Mayor Harold Washington.
The lifetime achievement award was part of the Black Excellence Awards celebration. The event is produced by the African American Arts Alliance, founded in 1997 with an aim to promote growth and foster development of arts programs in African American community.
Monday's event recognized performers from across the city within theater, dance, film, literature, visual arts and music.
"The organization is to continue providing resources and visibility for African-American artists," said Jackie Taylor, president of the AAAA board of directors. "Joel is a pioneer. He is nationally and internationally recognized. Who better to recognize than someone who has added to the development of the arts in our community. He is legendary."
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