North Texas dance community mourns back-to-back deaths of two young talents
Members of the Dallas dance community gathered to bring flowers, release balloons and dance to music as they mourned the loss of two talented dancers in their community.
When the news broke that James Antoine Cody, 29, and Tyris Robertson, 30, both died on consecutive days in March, the dance community in North Texas gathered to memorialize them the best way they knew how: dance.
Bodies moved to the sounds of R&B, dancehall and hip-hop at a community space in Plano, and later in Dallas, to celebrate the lives of the two beloved dancers.
Cody's death was confirmed as the result of a car accident in Richardson.
Robertson, who was the dance teacher at Kipp Destiny Middle School in southern Dallas, was also a choreographer at multiple studios in the area and had danced in many venues countrywide. Many members from his dance workshops looked up to him as a great leader and instructor.
“His presence on everyone is so heavy,” Robertson’s close friend Janezia Thomas, said. “What he stood for is community, he stood for Dallas, to get together and to be the best dance community out there.”
Cody, who was a freelance cinematographer by day, had gained a following on Instagram by posting comedy skits and dance routines with his friends.
Taj ‘TSoup’ Campbell, who battled against Cody in street dance competitions around the DFW metroplex, recalled meeting Cody for the first time and remembered how humble he had been about his success on social media.
“He didn't care about the numbers,” Campbell said. “He was making content for himself, his love of dance, love of videography, his creative side and to hang out with his friends.”
Cody’s close friend Mariah Miller says that above all, he was a talented creative and dancer. Miller said that after working with Cody on a dance concept video, the final product felt like a movie to her.
“Getting to know him as a person, he was very unique,” Miller said. “I've never seen anyone dance like [him] before in my life.”
Around 50 members of the dance community held a memoriam for Cody and Robertson at Fenton's Dance Factory in Plano, and later that week at Niaps Spain Dance Space in Dallas.
Whitney Ricketts, who goes by “MissSwissRolls” in the dance community, has known Robertson since 2019 and lived with him for some time.
“He's just been such a light to everybody, not just myself but a mentor [to others],” Ricketts said. “We are going to truly miss him.”
Many people, including Ricketts, acknowledged that among the many things they would miss about Robertson would be seeing his smile every day.
To celebrate Robertson, they assembled an altar of balloons, candles and string lights at the front of their studio, where members of the community were able to embrace, support and uplift each other.
“I appreciate the both of them and will always keep them around in our memories, in our hearts, and every time we get together,” Taj ‘TSoup’ Campbell said.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story included an unverified cause of death for Tyris Robertson.
Trevon McWilliams is a photojournalism intern at KERA News. KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.