THE MASTERS OF ARTS
His mother sang in Billy Graham’s choir and his aunt starred in Damn Yankees with Joe Piscopo. Dahl, founder of Traverse Art Project (TAP) and the director of LGBT nightlife at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, admits, “I grew up in a theatrical family.” He’s traveled the world in more than 75 stage shows, directs the “Miss’d America” pageant, produces POP! gay sketch comedy, and has worked at the Wilma Theater, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center on star-studded events like Night of a Thousand Gowns. “I hope to create shows that really challenge people’s beliefs and make them question why they believe what they do,” says Dahl, who also wants to make people laugh. “We want to do Steel Magnolias in drag this year.”
Booker, a West Philly native, got his start at the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts. “I got into Philadanco early,” says Booker, artistic director of The Smoke, Lilies and Jade Arts Initiative. He eventually trained at the School of American Ballet in New York City before moving to Europe to dance with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project. “My focus now is on developing a work based on Essex Hemphill and Joe Beam,” says Booker, both African-American gay rights activists. This year Booker, also an artist-activist, was honored with a dance tribute at Equality Forum. “I want to keep us talking about the difficult issues, like HIV and AIDS, racism, class and historical revisionism,” he says.
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