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VIDEO: SummerStage Anywhere Shares Interview with Joan Myers Brown

Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage hosted an intimate conversation with the legendary Joan Myers Brown (Founder of PHILADANCO and The Philadelphia School of Dance Arts) as part of their Soundcheck: Curator Conversation with SummerStage Dance Curator Danni Gee.

Watch below!

During the chat, Brown and Gee chatted about how the dance icon started falling love with dance in West Philadelphia in the 1950s. Talking about her beginnings, Brown shared "In High School, I joined the ballet club as the only Black girl there, there I was. I've been fighting battles ever since." She spoke about the hardships she had to go through trying to take classes in secret, not being able to join other companies and being restricted in her training because of the segregation and prejudices that were, and still are, rampant in this country. "Being Black in America is still being Black in America. I'm still fighting the battle."

The discussion also dove into Brown starting The Philadelphia School of Dance Arts and The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) in an effort to give young Black dancers a place to train, Gee's experiences as a former Principal at the Company early in her own dance career, what still needs to happen in terms of "Diversity" in the Arts specifically with Dance and more.

"One of the absolute joys of my work is bringing the beauty of Dance in its various forms and genres to the public, to all the communities of New York, for free without the barrier of cost," shares Gee on the recent dance programming through SummerStage Anywhere. "Being able to still serve our audiences during this time via our digital platforms, while at the same time, still continuing to amplify 'voices' of artists of color, is as crucial as it is personally rewarding."

A dancer, choreographer, and artistic director, Joan Myers Brown helped create space for African-Americans in the U.S. and international dance communities and has spent her career creating opportunities and training techniques for Black dancers, becoming a pillar of Philadelphia's dance and arts scene in the process. Brown was awarded the 2012 National Medal of the Arts by President Obama who recognized her for carving out "an artistic haven for African American dancers and choreographers to innovate, create, and share their unique visions with the national and global dance communities."

Still to come this season are more performances, conversations and even interactive lessons from iconic names in the dance world including The New York Times' "Biggest Breakout Stars of 2019" and tap visionary Ayodele Casel, Artistic Director & CEO of Ballet Hispánico Eduardo Vilaro, Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" Camille A. Brown Dancer Juel D. Lane, co-founder and co-artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet Desmond Richardson, New York-native and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater member Khalia Campbell, dance educator, choreographer, dramaturg and scholar Melanie George and more. A full schedule of all upcoming dance programming is below.

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