The Philadelphia Dance Company
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The Philadelphia Dance Company (also known as Philadanco) is a professional dance company based in Philadelphia, PA that specializes in modern contemporary dance. The organization was founded in 1970 by Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown. The company tours both nationally and internationally in addition to their regular appearances locally at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Painted Bride Art Center, and other venues in the Philadelphia area. Part of the company's tour schedule is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts' Regional Arts Touring Program and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) was created in 1970 by Joan Myers Brown with the intention of providing a dance institution for African-American students who were not welcome in other schools and companies. Philadanco’s mission, determined upon the company’s inception is: “To present the highest quality of professional dance performance, and to provide exceptional training for the improvement of skills for emerging professional dancers and choreographers in a nurturing environment while increasing the appreciation of dance among its many communities.” This outlook has stood the test of time, and remains a driving force behind everything Philadanco does.
Philadanco conducts programs that are divided into four main components: the professional company, D/2 Apprentice Company, an Instruction and Training Program, and a Summer Training Program.
The professional company of Philadanco is an internationally recognized modern dance company. Throughout the year, the company provides countless performances throughout the year via domestic and international tours, and at their home theater, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, during the months of fall and spring. Philadanco also established the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), an organization that allows the black dance community to address common issues, pool their resources, and establish collaborations which result in beneficial advancements to the dance community as a whole.
- Rosita Adamo
- Cain Coleman
- Chloé Davis
- Brandon Glasgow
- Lindsey Holmes
- Michael Jackson Jr.
- Joan Kilgore
- Alicia Lundgren
- Jesse Sani
- Jermaine T
- Courtney Robinson
Philadanco’s repertory includes numerous works from pioneers of modern dance such as Christopher Huggins and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. The professional company’s original choreographies and choreographers have been inspiring mentors to other emerging companies in the area. The prevalence of these original works serve as a testament to Philadanco’s artistic abilities as they have weathered the challenges faced by many Black modern dance companies. Below is a list of the pieces currently included in Philadanco’s repertory:
- Back to Bach, by Eleo Pomare
- Ballet: The Blues and the Bible – Genesis, by Geoffrey Holder
- Between Earth and Home, by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
- Blue, by Christopher L. Huggins
- Circular Ruins, by Elisa Monte
- Echoes: A Celebration of Alvin Ailey, by Milton Myers
- Elegy by Gene Hill Sagan
- Enemy Behind the Gates, Christopher Huggins
- Everythin is Everything, by Lynne Taylor-Corbett
- For Mother, by Ronald K. Brown
- Forces of Rhythm, by Louis Johnson
- Gate Keepers, by Ronald K. Brown
- Hand Singing Songs, by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
- Labess II, by David Brown
- My Science, by Bebe Miller
- Natural Flirt, by Trey McIntyre
- Steal Away, by Alonzo King
- Sweet in the Mornin, by Leni Wylliams
- Temple of my Listening, Eva M. Gholson
- Trance Atlantic, by Walter Nicks
- Xmas Philes, by Daniel Ezralow
D/2 is the apprentice training company for Philadanco’s professional company. It claims to provide unrivaled experience opportunities for young dancers who are not prepared to make the full transition to the world of professional dance. D/2 is under the instruction of Donald T. Lunsford, and when smaller organizations request a Philadanco performance, D/2 is able to fill the void that might have been left due to the professional company’s hectic performance schedule.
- Ja'Vonna Blake
- Elyse Browning
- Edward Gillis
- Allan Harmon
- Joy Heller
- Catherine Kreide
- Marlean Post
- Jasmine Powell
- Monica Rhea
- Anthony Silver
- Subira Taylor
- Kendal Williams
Instruction and Training Program
Philadanco’s Instruction and Training Program is a forty week experience during which, members attend classes with nationally recognized dance instructors. This program is the foundation of Philadanco’s structure as it allows the young people of Philadelphia early and intense exposure to dance in the hopes that their talents will serve to raise the caliber of Philadanco’s future apprentice and professional companies. Students receive training in numerous styles of dance including: ballet, jazz, African, tap, and specific modern techniques such as established by Katherine Dunham and Lester Horton. Their annual concert, “Danco on Danco” allows the students to demonstrate their dance and choreographic skills acquired through the Instruction and Training Program.
Summer Training Program
Through the summer, Philadanco redirects its focus to preparing younger students for entry into the Instruction and Training Program. Although students from the Instruction and Training program commonly participate in both outlets, the summer program can act as an intense “crash-course” providing insight to the rigors of a dancer’s lifestyle. Training is provided in the three core genres of dance: ballet, jazz, and modern.
In addition to providing dance education, Philadanco is an active participant in the arts community and a strong supporter of arts education. A few of the company’s more notable accomplishments include
- Establishment of the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD).
- Being the pilot dance company to participate in the state of Pennsylvania’s Comprehensive Education Training Act to create an arts training program.
- Providing an extension of The Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, and providing underprivileged dancers with opportunities for scholarships and work-study programs to ensure arts education to all.