Joan Myers Brown & the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of American Performance

Cover of Brenda Dixon Gottschild’s Joan Myers Brown & The Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of American Performance.

Gottschild, a performer turned author, scholar, and self-described “cultural worker,” completed research and writing for her book, Joan Myers Brown & the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of Performance and Race, which was published by U.K. publisher Palgrave Macmillan in January 2012. Brown, who founded the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts in 1960, as well as the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) in 1970, grew up in Southwest Philadelphia, where she hoped to become a professional ballerina despite a ballet establishment that would not embrace African-Americans. Gottschild is a 2009 Leeway Foundation Transformation Award winner and the author of works such as Waltzing in the Dark (St. Martin’s Press, 2000) and The Black Dancing Body (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). As it tells the story of Joan Myers Brown, her new book also tells the previously unwritten 20th-century dance history of black Philadelphia, one that has great potential to reach beyond the region to serve as a national model for other untold cultural stories, just beginning to emerge. “It may be the first time for a black dance community to have a book written about it from the inside out, reaching past the community to the larger world.” Palgrave Macmillan partnered with Dance/USA Philadelphia and other dance agencies to market the book to a range of institutions and organizations.

References

As part of its year-long project, Headlong presents a series of River Charrettes—performances and participatory conversations—at various sites along Philadelphia’s waterfronts.

Two Center-funded performance projects—Supper, People on the Move and Facing Front: Lectures and Performance by Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion—culminated at the end of June, gaining media attention from several regional news outlets.

Grants & Grantees

Journalism and first-person storytelling will intersect in a multi-media project featuring a series of public radio broadcasts and podcasts, presented in collaboration with First Person Arts.

Grants & Grantees

The Eleone Dance Theatre produced Americana in collaboration with former members of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company.

Grants & Grantees

Tina Davidson is a composer and a 1992 Pew Fellow.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Hema Rajagopalan is a bharata natyam dancer, teacher, and choreographer, and the founder and artistic director of Natya Dance Theatre, a professional touring company and school that has specialized in bharata natyam for the past 40 years. Rajagopalan served as a 2015 LOI panelist in Performance.

Founded in 1969, Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble seeks to preserve, present, and build upon the dance and music of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Grants & Grantees

Dorothy Wilkie’s (Pew Fellow, 2007) choreography involves the re-staging and re-choreographing of traditional West African and Afro-Cuban dances.

Choreographer Stephen Petronio and artist Janine Antoni on how visual arts organizations can invite audiences into performative experiences.

Grants & Grantees

Since 1980, Susan Hess Modern Dance has sought to grow the audience for contemporary dance and support independent dance artists in the Philadelphia community.

Drozdowski, a curator of performance, will host European duo Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion for a two-week retrospective of their collaborative career.

Pew Fellow Germaine Ingram talks with us about the responsibilities of creating socially engaged art.