Mary Johnson and Joan Myers Brown (right) at a recital at the Sydney School of Dance, Philadelphia

February 1–2, 1949
Credit Line
John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

Here Mosley captures a young Joan Myers Brown (right) performing at a recital with Mary Johnson at the Sydney School of Dance in West Philadelphia. Born in 1931, Brown grew up in Southwest Philadelphia and began studying dance as a child. She opened the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts in 1960, at a time when most of the dance schools in the city were segregated. Ten years later, in 1970, she founded PHILADANCO, which quickly became one of Philadelphia’s premier dance companies.

Brown serves as honorary chairperson for the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), an organization she established in 1991. She also founded the International Conference of Black Dance Companies in 1988. She is a distinguished visiting professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a member of the dance faculty at Howard University in Washington, DC. She has received numerous awards, including the Philadelphia Award (2009) and the National Medal of Arts (2012). She was recently honored by the Dance Heritage Coalition as one of America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures.

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