PHILADANCO! Founder and Executive Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown knows that some audience members find dance puzzling.
From her own opportunities dancing and working in commercial theater with many who were famous, she understands the importance of presentation and entertainment. However, the 85-year-old executive artistic director of Philadelphia’s internationally recognized dance company wants viewers to enjoy dance, feel good when they leave a performance and have a positive experience.
“I don’t have dance. Dance has me!” she says.
Here are some of her insights about her experiences and the value of dance in our daily lives:
What characteristics are developed through dance training? Perseverance, discipline, “stick-to-it-iveness”–all of those things come from dance. People who have had that kind of training in their background tell me all the time that if they hadn’t danced, they probably wouldn’t be what they are today.
Why did you base the company in Philadelphia? I was born and raised here. I always thought that I needed to give something back–not only back but to the community. I wanted a high level of dancing, so others would learn the craft.
What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced? I don’t keep myself challenged; there are challenges every day. You take one step forward and two steps back. Every day, there’s something like funding cuts, or dancers come and go.
What points would you like to clarify about the company? There’s such a problem with people thinking of our dance school as PHILADANCO! The school is the forerunner of PHILADANCO! which is the brand for the dance company.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your work? When I stand in the back of a theater and watch an audience stand to their feet and applaud for the dancers, I say, “That’s why I do this.” The audience responds to what they do–not only here in America but all over the world.
What achievement has given you the greatest sense of pride? The kids’ lives I’ve affected who might not have been anything if they didn’t get involved with dance.