PHILADANCO to Kick Off 45th Anniversary Celebration at Perelman Theater, 4/17-19

By: Mar. 19, 2015
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Groundbreaking, internationally acclaimed modern dance company PHILADANCO will return to their Philadelphia home at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts to mark their 45th Anniversary celebration in Perelman Theater on April 17-19 (times vary).

Having Our Say..., a new program honoring four generations of female choreographers, will open and close with world premiere ballets by Philadanco alumna and emerging choreographer Dawn Marie Bazemoreand dance legend- matriarch Dianne McIntyre. This compelling program will be rounded out by audience favorites, My Science by Bebe Miller,and Jawola Willa Jo Zollar's Hands Singing Song.

"Philadanco's newest production is a play on the title of a book written by the Delaney sisters, two 90 year-old African American women who in their lifetime experienced racism and sexism during the Jim Crow Era and The Great Depression," comments Philadanco Founder and Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown on the 45th anniversary spring performances. "Philadanco's program similarly shares the stories of four African American women, who despite the odds were able to make strides through dance, with opportunities for these choreographers to showcase their works on stage."

"We are so excited about Philadanco's 45th Anniversary spring performances at the Kimmel Center," adds Kimmel Center President and CEO Anne Ewers. "It is refreshing to see the work of these four female choreographers drawn together and 'having their say' in celebration of Joan Myers Brown's extraordinary talent, vision and dedication to this internationally renowned dance company."

founder of Philadanco, Joan Myers Brown has a long history of blazing trails for choreographers and dancers. Over the last 45 years, Brown has continually empowered women through her own work, giving rise to talented choreographers to debut their newly commissioned works and reimagine classic ballet repertoire, with the acrobatic, elegant skillset of Philadanco dancers. Brown embraces both talented young choreographers such as Dawn Marie Bazemore and acclaimed veterans like Dianne McIntyre.

The 45th Anniversary spring program arrives in Philadelphia just weeks before Joan Myers Brown is scheduled to receive an Honorary Doctor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania at the upcoming 2015 29th Commencement ceremony on May 18. The degree honors Brown's pioneering spirit in the dance community worldwide. Joan has received additional recent accolades, such as the 2014 George Bartol Arts Education Award for her dedicated work to educate youth in Philadanco summer program and The Youth Ensemble, the 2013 DanceUSA Honor Award for extraordinary leadership and vision in Dance, and the 2012 National Medal of the Arts award presented by President Obama.

"Having Our Say..." is the company's first performance in the United States since returning from an international tour of the James Brown Project, Get on the Good Foot, made its world premiere at the Apollo Theater in New York City in the Fall of 2014, and began touring internationally in January 2015 with performances in Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

"The evening's deepest satisfactions came from Philadanco's ability to project choreographic details at high speed, to create potent emotional contexts from the slimmest choreographic pretexts and to make a case for galvanic torso movement at a time when many major moderns emphasize soggy balleticisms." -Los Angeles Times, about Get on the Good Foot.

Tickets are available from $29 to $46. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999, online at, at the Kimmel Center box office; Broad & Spruce Streets (open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

Dawn Marie Bazemore is a Philadanco alumna and currently a performing and teaching artist based in Philadelphia. She has served as a Guest Artist and Master Class/Workshop instructor at various universities across the country including Virginia Commonwealth University, Cheyney University, University of California (Irvine), Rutgers University, Florida State University and Howard University. Dawn Marie has also led Workshops and taught Master Classes at The International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference, Jazz World Congress, MASS MoCA and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. As a choreographer, Dawn Marie has created works for VCU Dance NOW, Danco II, Berks Ballet Theater and Wayne Ballet Theater. Her work Pacing, choreographed for Berks Ballet Theater, was selected to be presented at the 2013 Regional Dance Arts Festival. In 2013, Dawn Marie presented her first solo work Loss: Loving into Life at the American Dance Festival.

Dianne McIntyre is regarded as "one of modern dance's reigning divas," by Time Out New York and is a groundbreaking artistic pioneer, with an impressive career spanning over 40 decades with choreography for the dance and theater stage, television and film. Her individualistic movement style reflects her affinity for cultural histories, personal narratives and the boldness, nuances, discipline and freedom in music and poetic text. World renowned dance companies, including Philadanco, have commissioned her choreography and teaching residencies. McIntyre has received numerous honors for her work. Fellowships include the John S. Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the National Dance Residency Award, National Endowment for the Arts Three-Year Choreography Fellowship, Creative Workforce Fellowship, National Dance Project Fellowship and many other grants, commissions and fellowships from NEA and New York State Council for the Arts. Her awards and nominations include three Bessie Awards (1989, 1997, 2006), two AUDELCO's, one Helen Hayes award, four Helen Hayes nominations, one Emmy nomination, Master of African American Choreography Medal from The Kennedy Center, American Dance Festival Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beineke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching, Distinguished Alumni Award from The Ohio State University, Ohio Dance Pioneer Award, Cleveland Arts Prize, and Thelma Hill and Woodie Lifetime Achievement Awards. She has also received honorary doctoral degrees from SUNY Purchase and Cleveland State University.

Bebe Miller, a native New Yorker, first performed her choreography at NYC's Dance Theater Workshop in 1978, after receiving her MA in Dance from OSU in 1975; she formed Bebe Miller Company in 1985. Known for its mix of virtuosic dancing and fundamental humanity, her choreography has been produced at major dance centers across the country and internationally in Europe and the African continent. She has been honored with four New York Dance and Performance "Bessie's," fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council and the Guggenheim Foundation, and was named a United States Artists Ford Fellow in 2010.A Professor in Dance at The Ohio State University since 2000, Bebe is a Distinguished Professor in OSU's College of Arts and Humanities and received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Ursinus College in 2009. In 2012 she was designated as one of the inaugural class of Doris Duke Artists, a program of the Doris Duke Foundation's Performing Artist Awards. Most recently, she was honored by New York Live Arts who presented her with the 2013 David White Award. Bebe currently lives in Columbus, OH.

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo. A choreographer and dancer, she grew up listening to jazz music and imagining movement in her head. In 1984, she left McIntyre's studio to establish the internationally acclaimed dance company, Urban Bush Women in 1984, which uses live music, cappella vocalizations and movement to interpret the religious traditions and folklore of the African Diaspora. Her work with Urban Bush Women has earned five grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Zollar has also garnered accolades as a teacher and speaker. These include receiving a New York Dance and Performance BESSIE Award in 1992, the Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Missouri in 1993 and Worlds of Thought Resident Scholar at Mankato University in 1993. Zollar's company was prominently featured in the PBS documentary, Free to Dance. In 2002, Zollar was awarded an honorary doctorate from Columbia University.

Philadanco has a long history as Philadelphia's premiere modern contemporary dance company: it is one of the first companies to hire dancers on a 52 week salary; the first to own housing for the dancers; and the first to own a debt-free facility. Philadanco presents wide-ranging repertoire of highly athletic material rooted in jazz, ballet and modern dance traditions. The company continues to consistently tour more than any Philadelphia cultural organization, performing as many as 50-60 concerts and 45 residencies annually.

In 2005, Philadanco was one of 14 companies to receive the prestigious American Masterpieces Award from the Kennedy Center. The company has performed at Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Joyce and the Delacorte in New York City as well as major venues throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.

Founder and Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown is a revered choreographer and dancer, who pioneered an alternative path for African Americans to become professionally trained dancers post-civil rights era. A new book written by dance scholar Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Joan Myers Brown & the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina, was published in January 2012 and explores how Brown's personal and professional histories reflect the hardships-and advances-of African-American dancers in the artistic and social developments of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. A trailblazer in her own right, Brown helped young emerging dancers and choreographers find a voice and place in the dance world by founding the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts in Philadelphia (1960); Philadanco (1970); the Coalition of African American Cultural Organizations in Philadelphia, co-founder (1986); the International Conference of Black Dance Companies (1988); and the International Association of Blacks in Dance (1991). Currently, Brown is a visiting professor at the University of the Arts and a member of the dance faculty at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She has received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts (2004) and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Ursinus College (2007).The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts also honored her as a Master of African American Choreography in 2005.

Born in Philadelphia on Christmas Day in 1931, Joan Myers Brown began training with the Ballet Guild in Philadelphia at age seven. She also trained at the Sydney-Marion School in Philadelphia, a pre-civil rights classical ballet school for African American dancers. Thereafter, Brown studied in New York in 1951 on a ballet scholarship to study at The Dunham School, and began her professional career with performances of choreographed works with The Savar Dancers at Café Montmarte in Montreal, Canada, as well as tours to Quebec City and Toronto. She has danced at the legendary Cab Calloway Cotton Club Revue, warmed up performers such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey, Billy Eckstein and Billy Daniels, among other greats.


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