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Charity dance concert shines a light on the plight of Dallas' homeless

Charity dance concert shines a light on the plight of Dallas' homeless

Zion Dance Project
Dancers from Zion Dance Project will perform. Facebook/ZionDanceProject

A big-hearted high school student is producing a unique dance concert to shine a spotlight on the problem of homelessness in Dallas.

Ashton Benn, a senior at Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, is the brains behind the Starfish Dallas Dance Concert, taking place September 18 at Moody Performance Hall. The net proceeds from the event will be given to St. Jude Center and Our Friends Place to promote homeless awareness and inspire community involvement, according to a release.

Presented by the nonprofit Starfish organization, which Benn founded, "the event hopes to inspire understanding of a complex societal problem that impacts many, particularly those living in and around downtown Dallas," the organizers say in the release.

Benn says she was inspired to start Starfish and organize the concert after spending a month in San Francisco for a dance seminar. She was shocked and saddened by the homelessness she witnessed in the city's Tenderloin District.

"Homelessness in Dallas is not even close to the degree of homelessness in San Francisco, meaning that we can solve this problem," Benn writes on the Starfish website. "Through research and interviews, I decided that the most necessary thing that the homelessness problem lacks is awareness, and the way that I came up with to provide this exposure was by combining my passions of dance, journalism, and social reform so that I can educate and inspire the community to band together and support those in need."

The concert will include a narrated dance program with photo and video aids themed around "the idea of solving the homelessness problem by making a difference to one homeless individual at a time," Benn says. The presentation will touch on the concepts of trust, persistence, empathy, hope, and empowerment.

Participants in the concert will include professionals Grace Buckley and Jakob Karr; the Zion Dance Project, a Christian-based professional dance company; Bombshell Dance Project, a contemporary dance company; the performing company from KJ Dance, an acclaimed local dance studio; and some talented dancers from Booker T. Washington High School. Pieces by choreographers Brian Stevens, Justin Giles, Cory Finn, and more will be performed.

The concert will begin at 7 pm, with a pre-show cocktail reception at 5:30 pm. Tickets, $14, are on sale now at StarfishDallas.com. Discounted student tickets will be available at the box office on the night of the event. The organization also welcomes donations through PayPal. More information is available here.