BORN: December 25, 1931
Joan Myers Brown is truly an undisputed legend in the national and international art dance communities all over the world. A native of Philadelphia, PA, she started dancing at an early age under the tutelage of Essie Marie Dorsey, Sydney Gibson King, & Marion Durham Cuyjet. She fought to be accepted in a dance world that did not accept black-skinned dancers. In the early 1940's it was a time where dancers were predominantly light-skinned; however she worked hard through her dance to make sure that people of color acquired equal status. Her struggles, hardship and history tackled the skin tone issues, cultural aspirations and social status exemplified in western classical dance.
She then traveled the world & performed for some of the greatest entertainers of all time and has been honored by accolades throughout her lifetime that is truly her highest testament in the world of dance. She often dreamed of a school where African Americans could learn and develop through programs created for their ethnic bodies. Her dream came to fruition when in 1970 she returned home and established The Philadelphia School of Dance Arts & The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco). In 2020 will mark her 50th year anniversary as an internationally recognized dance company. In addition, she also created the phenomenal International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) & the International Conference of Black Dance Companies (ICBD).
There are many more national and regional organizations that she either founded or served on as she tirelessly advocated for minorities and women in the arts which also played key roles in empowering young women of color. She has devoted her career to expanding opportunities for African American dancers and choreographers as well as strengthening and advancing dance in her hometown. All of her many accolades and lifetime accomplishments, of course, is humbling but she often states that its just always been about her passion to create opportunities for young women and men who need outlets to express the gift of their talent through innovation and creativity.
We Salute Joan Myers Brown and thank her for being relentless for over a half-century in her effort to open doors for African American dancers everywhere!