May 9, 2010 |
In 1960, back before the civil rights movement turned north, back when African Americans found themselves unwelcome in many of the city's signature organizations, Joan Myers Brown started a dance school for children, way out on Market Street. No one in the big downtown arts groups seemed to notice. Why should they? Black children were excluded from white dance schools, and no black dancers graced the stages of mainstream dance companies here or most anywhere else in the country. In 1970, Brown founded the Philadelphia Dance Company, known universally as Philadanco, to give her students a shot at professional performance and to make a visible African American presence in the world of classic and modern dance.
April 17, 2010 |
Joan Myers Brown, whose determination to open up the world of dance to the creative energies of African Americans led her to found a groundbreaking dance school and performing ensemble here, has been named the 89th winner of the Philadelphia Award. The award, announced Friday night at a gala performance celebrating the 40th anniversary of Brown's renowned dance company, Philadanco, at the Kimmel Center, will be presented at an award ceremony there May 10. In addition to founding Philadanco in 1970, Brown founded the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts in 1960.
April 17, 2010 |
We often speak of Philadelphia treasures, and Joan Myers Brown has been one of the city's most valuable assets for the last 40 years. Forty years! As founder and artistic director of Philadanco - the Philadelphia Dance Company - her reach here and around the world has won her fond acclaim, including this year's Philadelphia Award. Thursday's 40th-anniversary opening performance at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater portended nothing but more smooth sailing for this helmswoman and her brilliant company.
January 15, 2010 |
Although deep into work with the Philadelphia Dance Company and her own dance school, Joan Myers Brown saw a problem that she could not ignore. Back then, in 1988, Brown also served on the board of Dance/USA (a national service organization based in Washington, D.C.). She noticed that such dance organizations were not interested in audiences of color, and they really did not want modern dance, preferring to focus on major ballet companies. "I knew there were problems that black companies were having and thought we might address them collectively," said Brown, the artistic and executive director of Philadanco in West Philadelphia.
January 12, 2010 |
"WHENEVER I have an anniversary it seems like I get crazy," laughed Joan Myers Brown over the phone last week from her studio in West Philadelphia. She expected to be working into the wee hours of the morning - and not for the only time that week - to prepare for the horde of dancers, teachers and students expected to stream into town for this week's International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference. Philadanco, the predominantly African-American dance company that Brown founded in 1970, will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, culminating in a series of performances at the Kimmel Center in April.
November 14, 2009 |
It's Philadanco's 40th birthday, but the modern dance company looks as fresh and strong as ever. The troupe opened its season at the Kimmel Center Thursday night with a program that includes a world premiere, a cameo appearance, and a celebration of women's derrieres. Companies and choreographers all over the world have tackled Bolero, with varying degrees of success. Indeed, Philadanco's is the second new version in Philadelphia in just four months (BalletX premiered one in July)
May 5, 2009 |
Philadelphia hosts a redoubtable legion of dance-makers. Over the weekend, amid a swirl of other dance activity, Eleone Dance Theatre was onstage at North Broad Street's Freedom Theater, while across town the Painted Bride hosted Tania Isaac, Gabri Christa, and Marianela Boan. At 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Eleone held forth in the beautifully refurbished John E. Allen Jr. Theater (there's free, attended parking next door). With the early curtain, you could take in Eleone and still make it down to South Broad Street to catch one of the other big dance concerts.
May 2, 2009 |
"All new" sounds exciting, but it can also mean "not yet broken in. " Philadanco presented three world premieres and a company premiere in a program called "New Faces" Thursday night at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, and while all the pieces were promising, they were still rough around the edges. Philadanco turns 40 in 2010, and the plan leading up to the anniversary was to revisit its history last fall and present new choreography now. The program of older work was stunning; the dances felt custom-fit for the dancers.
April 23, 2009 |
On a frigid February evening there's a sizzle in the air at Philadanco's West Philadelphia studios. Hope Boykin has kindled the dancers' fire. A drop-dead-dazzling mover who performed with Danco from 1994 to 2000, Boykin has been a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for nine seasons. She is using a brief furlough from the Ailey 50th Anniversary Tour to rehearse Be Ye Not, the new work she choreographed for Danco, a highlight of the company's Kimmel Center program next week.
October 18, 2008 |
I am always surprised to see open seats when Philadanco performs at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater. The company is one of the brightest jewels on the city's arts scene, internationally known, and in residence here only about eight days a year. If you miss a season, you might never see the ballets on that program. With that in mind, executive artistic director Joan Myers Brown decided to bring a program of audience favorites this fall to the Kimmel Center, where Philadanco is resident dance company.