MIAMI — Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., has sponsored Jabberwock since 1926, a fundraiser that also showcases the talents of youth and promotes the performing arts.
The theme was Michael Jackson – The King of Pop and the show opened with members of the Miami Alumnae Chapter of the sorority performing their version of the moves that helped make the late pop superstar a world-wide icon.
In one performance they appeared in white shirts, white pants, red belts and wearing the trademark single sequined glove and black fedora.
The afternoon show was reminiscent of years gone by when the show took place in the auditorium of the then Booker T. Washington Junior/Senior High School in Overtown. Back then, it was a community event, with proud parents and neighbors dressed in their best attire and making their way to the usually packed auditorium.
The name "Jabberwock" is taken from Lewis Carol's fairy tale Alice in Wonderland and the magical performers in the fantasy story. The first Jabberwock was presented in 1926, in Boston, Mass., to raise money for the sorority's scholarship fund, but the event has grown into an international spectacular and the name was formally adopted and copyrighted by the sorority in 1947.
Shirlyon McWhorter-Jones, president of the sorority’s Miami chapter, greeted the audience and said the planning committee spent many hours preparing and planning for the show.
Usually, performers are invited back year after year but, Vivian Smith, who chaired this year's Jabberwock Committee, said most of the youngsters performing Saturday were new to the event.
"They came to us by word of mouth through the sorors," she said. "I was so elated to see the talent… it was awesome. We hadn't auditioned the performers. We went on what the parents or the sponsors told us.
"This is the first year that we had a multicultural community representation from the north and south areas of Miami-Dade County,” she added.
The performers came from churches, schools and private dance companies around the county.
Twins Shanice and Soree Brown opened the show with a rousing medley of Jackson songs. The sisters, known as the "Divine Voices," will graduate from Coral Reef High in the spring.
First-grader Jaylon Bryant Moore and, later, his elder brother, third-grader Jaiden, performed Jackson dance routines to much applause.
Miami Northwestern High School's PAVAC drama department presented Tribute to Michael Jackson through his songs and dance.
Other performers included Kayla Alexis Harrell of South Miami Middle School; the Bright Star Dancers – Briana, Lyana, N'Nanda and Victoria of Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary; the South Florida Boys and Girls Choir from R. R. Moton Elementary School; the Highly Favored Dancers from Covenant Missionary Baptist Church; Company M Dance company from R.R. Moton Elementary; the Edwin Holland Dance Ensemble; soloist Alexa Randolph from Miami Country Day School; St. Peters Missionary Baptist Church Dance Ensemble; and the Drew Middle School Dancers.
Smith said several years ago the sorority adopted the Inner City Dance company, founded by Florene Nichols, as a black-owned business to support.
"A lot of the youngsters who performed from PAVAC, Charles Drew and Edwin Holland, came through Nichols' school. She is now working with a younger group of children," Smith said, “and we will continue our support."