In 1996, he retired from his career as a professional dancer with DTH to devote himself full time to his mission of improving the lives of underserved children through the arts. In 2002, he founded Washington Reflections Dance Company, a professional ensemble of dancers and choreographers that continue to impress audiences and critics alike with dynamic contemporary ballet and modern dance performances. Since DIW’s inception, many students have gone on to careers with companies such as the Suzanne Farrell Ballet and DTH, or continued studies at ballet conservatories and universities, among them Temple and Harvard.
Additionally, Fabian Barnes had a long history of teaching at educational institutions other than the Dance Institute of Washington. He served as Artist-in-Residence for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Education Department and the Seattle Public School System. He taught master classes in dance from coast to coast and at the Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy. He was an Adjunct Professor of Ballet at the University of the District of Columbia and served as an instructor at many other institutions. Mr. Barnes taught classes at Norfolk State University, Phillips Exeter High School in Exeter, New Hampshire and The University of Texas at Austin. He continued to serve as a master teacher and lecturer throughout the region. Fabian Barnes died April 8, 2016.
His awards include: The Linowes Leadership Award; Oprah Angel Network Use Your Life Award; Pola Nirenska Award; and the Amtrak Pioneer Award. Most recently, the Dance Institute’s outreach program Positive Directions Through Dance won the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Fabian was named a CNN “American Hero” and Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine. He also appeared on Oprah, the Today Show and "The Remarkable Journey."
Mr. Barnes would always say, “My mentor at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Arthur Mitchell, the first African American to dance in a major ballet, New York City Ballet, always taught the importance of giving back to the community, and seeing talented young dancers grow and develop through DIW programs makes it all worthwhile.”