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Arts & Culture

After 36 Years At Booker T., Dance Icon Lily Cabatu Weiss Takes Final Curtain Call

Christina Ulsh
Lily Cabatu Weiss talks to KERA's Vice President of News Rick Holter about her storied career at Booker T. Washington and the impact of Bruce Wood's death on the North Texas dance community.

The last few weeks have rocked the North Texas dance community. Choreographer Bruce Wood died suddenly. Ann Williams retired from that Dallas Black Dance Theatre that she founded. And the woman who trained many of North Texas’ top dancers, Lily Cabatu Weiss, is stepping away from the barre at Booker T. Washington high school. She stopped by for this week's this week’s Friday Conversation.

Interview Highlights: Lily Cabatu Weiss...

...on her long career at Booker T: “I always knew I would have a long career, but I didn’t know it was going to be this long. I thought I was going to bring the school back into the new building and that I would spend probably the first two or three years to get us re-acclimated into the arts district. And then I thought after three years I can walk away. Well, it’s been six now.”

...on growing up in El Paso and her performing arts background: “The background is indirect. My parents are first generation Filipinos and my mother made sure that the Filipino culture was part of our upbringing. She taught us all the Filipino folk dances and she also had me singing at a very young age. It’s very interesting, I appeared on ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ as a singer, in Portland, Oregon if you can figure that out. Without a doubt there’s a strong Filipino community in El Paso, Texas because it is a military community with a base there.”

...on the impact of choreographer Bruce Wood’s death: “It’s huge, I consider Bruce a good friend. And of course, Booker T. Washington, he has used our studios. I think Bruce has opened up doors for dance in Dallas, in this North Texas area, and I hope that it continues.”