HBCU Inaugural event


Denise McClendons

Denise Smith McClendon, the founder of the McClendon School of Dance, now the McClendon Performing Arts Institute, one of the oldest and most prestigious dance schools, owned by an African American woman in the state of Georgia, is magnifying! Her passion, commitment and dedication to the development of students has over the years gained her high praises and recognition in the dance community. A native of Atlanta growing up during an electrifying time period, she began her black owned business, and had the desire to begin her journey in teaching young ladies classical ballet and many other dance genres. She continued developing her developmental training throughout her college years where she was a student instructor and choreography for Clark College. It was during her years at Clark she began what is now the McClendon School of dance.

Dr. James Hardy Patterson

Professor of Music and Founder of James Hardy Patterson Foundation, Inc., Dr. Patterson has made a remarkable lasting impression on not just his students, but many others! Dr. Patterson earned his Masters of Music Degree from the University of Michigan an received an honorary Doctorate Degree from Morris Brown College in 2018. His musical background consist of organizing and directing the Drum and Bugle corps at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, performing with the Seventh Army Band in Stuttgart, Germany and throughout Europe, served as the department chair and band director with the Fulton County Board of Education, and the list goes on! For the bulk of his years Dr. Patterson devoted his time to training his students of Clark Atlanta University in the advancement of musical skills!

Gaybrielle Lee-Ann

Gaybrielle Dixon is an accomplished graduate from Southern University where she majored in English and minored in business administration. From then she started her journey of taking on life by making her first big step and moving to Atlanta, Georgia to pursue an acting career. While exploring that path and receiving opportunities, she decided to put her major to use and write a book which has now put her in the place of being a published author. She also created her own dance company known as G.L.A.D. To Dance, where she mentors and trains young ladies to perfect their craft in dance and also becoming better ladies all around. Upon gaining great success in these ventures, she decided to start a non-profit organization catering to the arts in HBCU’s. She now serves as the co-founder and President of the HBCU Cultured Dance & Arts Society.

Joelle Bennett

The Dancing Unicorn is the result of Joelle putting her passions together. As an aspiring model and professional dancer, she wants to entertain the world with her unique abilities. Dancing and singing since 5 years old, she’s always enjoyed bringing that flair to the stage! Joelle is technically trained in ballet, tap, hip-hop, jazz, and pointe. She also loves doing make up and fashion as well. She has performed with Atlanta’s only professional black dance company, Atlanta Dance Connection as well as served as a brand ambassador for a national dancewear brand – Eurotard Dancewear.  She most recently completed a project where key black figures in HERstory came to life from a book, in conjunction with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company and the Center for Civil and Human Rights, as Raven Wilkinson, the first African American woman to dance for a major ballet company. She is currently a student at The #1 HBCU school in the country, Spelman College, majoring in Dance with a minor in Food. Her aspirations include becoming a Nutritionist focusing on healthy eating habits to fuel dancers on and off the dance floor and one day running her own studio! 

Rick Collins

Video Content Creator

Courtney “COCO” Coprich

Event Photographer

Chris Ingram

Event Videographer/content creator