Former Dancer from MiIller South

Dominic Moore-Dunson is Emerging Artist Winner
Posted on 09/27/2019
Dominic Moore-Dunson

2019 Cleveland Arts Prize, emerging artist winner for theater and dance:

Dominic Moore-Dunson, dancer and choreographer

Work: dances, choreographs and assists the artistic director at Inlet Dance Theatre

Schooling: Miller South School for Visual and Performing Arts, Akron School for the Arts, University of Akron

Other honors include: Theatre for Young Audiences/USA fellowship, National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellowship

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Creator Dominic Moore-Dunson plays two genders and four characters in his “‘The Black Card’ Project:” a big thug, a Bible-thumper, a music teacher, and a sheltered pre-teen sent to the Booker T. Malcolm Luther Parks Academy of Absolute Blackness.

“His performance range is pretty astonishing,” Bill Wade, Inlet Dance Theatre’s founder and executive/artistic director, says of his assistant, who also dances and choreographs for Inlet. “He has a rare combination of power and vulnerability.”

Last month, Moore-Dunson was announced as a 2019 Cleveland Arts Prize for an emerging artist in theater and dance, This year’s prizewinners will be honored Sept. 25 at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Moore-Dunson is not your typical dancer. He’s 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds.

He likes to fulfill expectations about African-American men and defy them by turns. In Wade’s solo “And Still I Rise” based on a Maya Angelou poem, Moore-Dunson plays 21 characters in 10 minutes. One moment, he’s a football player knocked to the turf. The next, he’s a young orphan sinking to the ground in despair.

Says Moore-Dunson, “The contrast sticks with people. We don’t see large men express pain and joy and sorrow.”

An Arts Prize jury praised Moore-Dunson, 29, for “the quality, dynamism, humor, and expressiveness of his performances; and the relevance of his work to diverse Northeast Ohio communities.... His work seems to be ascending, accelerating and growing.”

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Born in San Antonio, he moved at 3 to his mother’s native Akron. Soon he started tagging along to dance lessons with his big sister and liking them. He studied at the future Dance Beatz, Studio West and Akron’s public arts schools.

Some classmates teased him for dancing. One said, “Bro, that ain’t black!”

But Moore-Dunson cowed them with his size and athleticism. He placed fourth and seventh in the state in different track hurdles, made the regional Olympic development team in soccer and quit the University of Akron soccer team a year before it won the national championship in its division.

Now he’s in his tenth season with Inlet Dance. Besides creating and executing dances, helps with programming, and more

Says Wade, “As an arts and culture leader and administrator, he is knowledgeable, wise, and clear. He's an old soul in a young body.”

Moore-Dunson has performed from Seattle to Massachusetts. Closer to home last year, he created and performed a commissioned solo, “Caution,” for the Akron Art Museum.

Fellow dancers often tell him to move to New York. But he’d rather keep his ranch house in Kenmore, short commutes, modest bills and wide choices of affordable rehearsal space.


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