New PAA coordinator plans workshops, Christmas play

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The SELMA Times-Journal

The Larry D. Striplin Performing Arts Centre is turning a new leaf thanks to its new coordinator.

Denise Dukes was recently named performing arts coordinator and said she is here to be of service to the city of Selma.

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A Montgomery native and a resident of Selma for five years, Dukes has 25 years of experience in the performing arts under her belt. At the age of three, she began her dancing career. She was the feature baton twirler during her years at George Washington Carver High School in Montgomery.

Dukes attended the Montgomery School of Ballet at Huntington College and jump started her modeling career at Gayfers Department Store as a Gayfer Girl. She majored in French and theatre at Tennessee State University and during her stint there she produced two television shows in Nashville.

After graduating from college, she moved to Los Angeles for a year to put her skills to the test. She was a regular dancer on the classic television series &8220;Soul Train&8221; and made a guest appearance on the 1980s NBC series &8220;Fame.&8221;

She attended the acclaimed Weist-Barron Hill Acting School in L.A., joined John Casablanca Modeling School and trained with one of the best vocal coaches in the city.

When Dukes returned from L.A., she was crowned as the first Miss Black Alabama and opened up her own modeling school in Montgomery. But after awhile, she wanted to jump back into acting.

She then packed up and moved to Atlanta where she landed roles on the TV series &8220;Matlock&8221;

and &8220;In The Heat of the Night.&8221;

And now Dukes wants to share the &8220;gifts that God gave her&8221; with the community.

Under her leadership, Dukes plans to organize several free workshops for children and adults in theatre, dance, modeling, charm school, baton twirling, stage vocal performance and public speaking.

She said these workshops will begin in the spring and become more frequent during the summer, giving area youth the chance to showcase their talents.

Dukes said she will provide educational training and assistance in the arts to area schools. She said her services are not exclusive to Selma City and Dallas County schools, but &8220;brother and sister counties such as Perry and Wilcox counties.&8221;

Dukes’ first order of business is a casting call for the upcoming musical stage production titled &8220;Christmas in Selma.&8221;

Auditions are scheduled for Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. at the Performing Arts Centre. Males and females of all ages are invited to attend. Singers and dancers must bring their own audition music on CD and actors will be given a short script to act out. Singers are limited to a two-minute time limit during their audition.