Joan Myers Brown

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Joan Myers Brown is an American dance instructor.

Brown is the only child of Nellie Lewis, a nuclear scientist, and Julius Myers, a chef and restaurateur. Native to both Philadelphia and North Carolina she grew up mainly on 47th Street and Paschall Avenue of Southwest Philadelphia. Brown's first dance instructors and role models were Essie Marie Dorsey, Sydney Gibson King, and Marion Durham Cuyjet. As a child she wished to shatter the social barriers prohibiting African Americans from becoming famous in the world of dance. During a time where famous dance personalities were predominantly light skinned, Brown worked hard to make sure that people of color acquired equal status in mainstream dance. She dreamed of a school where African Americans could learn and develop through methods tailored specifically to their individual needs - a program that was specially created for ethnic bodies.[1]


  • Founded The Philadelphia Dance Company (more commonly known as Philadanco)
  • Established The Philadelphia School of Dance Arts
  • Created the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD)
  • Founded the International Conference of Black Dance Companies
  • Served as dance faculty at Howard University
  • Honored in "Dance Women; Living Legends", a tribute to African-American pioneer women of modern dance [2]
  • Brown was one of the recipients of the 2012 National Medal of Arts, by President and Mrs. Obama, in the White House's East Room, on Wednesday, July 10, 2013[3]


  1. ^ Patri Warren, Charmaine. Dance Women/Living Legends, 1997.
  2. ^ "Joan Myers Brown", Philadanco.
  3. ^ "President Obama to Award 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal", The White House, July 3, 2013.