Philadelphia Dance Company Records

5.3 linear feet


Historical Note

Philadanco, a non–profit professional dance company located in Philadelphia, PA, was founded by Joan Myers Brown in 1970.  The mission of the company is to preserve African American dance traditions and to provide training and performance opportunities for minority and non–minority dancers.  Known for innovative dance training programs and support systems, Philadanco provides choreographic workshops, counseling, low-cost master classes, free professional level classes, and dancewear to members of its programs. The company receives support from corporate foundations, individual donors, the city of Philadelphia, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Philadanco conducts lecture demonstrations for young audiences in schools and community centers in the Philadelphia area.  They perform with world-renowned orchestras and many popular celebrities, locally, on tour, and on national television.  Philadanco is internationally recognized for its artistic integrity, highly trained dancers, and initiatives to further development of African American choreographers.  

In 1988, under the leadership of Ms. Myers Brown, Philadanco organized the first International Conference on Black Dance Companies.  In 1992, the International Association of Blacks in Dance was formed with Ms. Myers Brown as the honorary chair.  In 1997, she was one of only five African American women receiving the Women in Dance Living Legends award for her contributions to modern dance.


Collection Overview

The bulk of the collection (1972–2004) consists of performance programs, photographs, marketing materials, and publicity.  Organizational records are limited, and include scattered minutes of the board of directors, correspondence, two annual reports, and a development plan.

The collection is arranged as follows:

The Audio/Visual materials include radio spots, commercials, and promotional shorts on VHS, U–matic, and cassette tapes.  An audio cassette and transcript of a KYW radio program features Joan Myers Brown, among other African Americans of influence.

The Business and Finances series contains scattered correspondence, annual reports, a development plan, and an operating proposal for the organization.  Brochures and announcements for the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts provide information about the company’s dance training school.

Performances and Events consists of invitations and programs for the company’s annual gala celebrations and miscellaneous receptions; performance programs; and organizational information associated with several touring performances and local concerts.   Included are meeting materials and reports on the International Conference on Black Dance Companies.

Photographs are arranged by individual performer, by performance piece, and by event.

The Publicity series consists of audition announcements, marketing materials (brochures, flyers, and advertisements), and performance reviews in the form of newspaper clippings and magazine articles.  Scattered issues of the Philadanco newsletter are included.

Miscellaneous items associated with the dance company include awards and citations, promotional items, costume drafts, biographies of company members, and teaching materials developed by the company.  The series contains biographical information and publicity for Joan Myers Brown. 

Processing Information

Processed in 2011 by B. Myerowitz.

Preferred Citation

Philadelphia Dance Company Records, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

Research Access 

Collection is open for research. 

Collections Stored Off-Site
This collection may be housed off-site at the Library Depository, and require up to 48 hours to retrieve. Please review the finding aid and be prepared to identify specific materials to be retrieved. Contact the Special Collections Research Center in advance of your visit, so that materials may be relocated to the reading room for research.
Technical Access
Original audiovisual materials, as well as preservation and duplicating masters, may not be played. Researchers must consult use copies, or if none exist must pay for a use copy. Certain digital files may also be inaccessible. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.


Index Terms

African American dance–-Pennsylvania–Philadelphia–-History–-20th century
African American dance teachers
African American dancers
Brown, Joan Myers
International Association of Blacks in Dance
Philadelphia Dance Company


Series 1: Audio/Visual

Box 1
3.5 inch floppy disks
     National Endowment for the Arts, text included in report on use of grant funding, circa 1998
     Philadanco invitation, 2000
Audio cassettes
     Aramark/Philadanco KYW radio spot, May 1995
     Interview with Joan Myers Brown, June 20, 1995
     KYW radio Black history month series, 1991
        (Highlights the achievements of African Americans of influence, including Joan Myers Brown.  Transcript included.)
U–matic tapes, ¾ format
     Commercial, undated (2 copies)
     30 second spot, undated
VHS tapes
     30 second and 3 minute spot, undated
     Commercial, 2001 (3 copies)
     Five minute promo, undated
     “Messages from the Heart” excerpts, undated
         (“Myscience,” choreographed by Bebe Miller; and “Hands Singing Songs,” choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar)
     Promo, 2000 (2 copies)
     Public service announcement, undated (3 copies)
Series 2: Business and Finances
Box 2
1      Annual report, 1987
2      Annual report, 1988
3      Board of Directors meeting minutes and correspondence, 1983–1989
4      Brazilian Dance company partnership, 1986–1987
5      Correspondence, circa 1968–1997 and undated
         (Includes Internal Revenue Service certificate of registration, 1972)
6      Five-year development plan, 1985–1989
7      General operating proposal, 1994–1995
8      Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, 1981–1996 and undated
         (Brochures and performance announcement)
9      Spring concert series, 1993, 1996
Series 3: Performances and Events
10      25th anniversary tour, 1995
11      Annual anniversary spring gala, 1988–2004
     International Conference on Black Dance Companies
12           Agenda and comprehensive report, 1987–1988
13           Meeting materials, Jan. 29–31, 1989
14      Jacobs Pillow, 1993–1994
15      Lincoln Center “Out of Doors,” August 17–18, 1993
Box 3
1      Lincoln University “African American Traditions: Perspectives from Pennsylvania,” March 19, 1997
2      Miscellaneous, 1976–1994
3      Programs, 1972–1979
4      Programs, 1981–1985
5      Programs, 1986
6      Programs, 1987
7      Programs, 1988
8      Programs,  1989
9      Programs,  1990
Box 4
1      Programs, 1991
2      Programs, 1992
3      Programs, 1993
4      Programs, 1994
5      Programs, 1995
6      Programs, 1996
Box 5
1      Programs, 1997
2-3    Programs, 1998
4-5    Programs, 1999
6      Programs, 2000
Box 6
1      Programs, 2001
2      Programs, 2002
3      Programs, 2003–2004
4      Programs, Undated
Series 4: Photographs
5     Alumni rehearsal, circa 1990
6     Anniversary gala, April 1990
7     Anniversary gala, April 1992
8     Donor forum, 1990
9     Performances: Annenberg, 1990
10    Performances: Danco on Danco, 1990
11    Performances: Joyce Theater, 1990
12    Spring concert, 1988
13    Spring concert, 1989
14    Spring concert, 1990
15    Spring concert, 1991
16    Performers: Buffington, Gigi
17    Performers: Chase, Deborah
18    Performers: Lopez, Miquel
19    Performers: McNeil, Corbett
Box 7
1     Performers: Sadler, Paul B.
2     Performers: St. Charles, David
3     Performers: Scott, Antonio
4     Performers: Toombs, Jamilla
5     Performers: Watkins, Evelyn
6     Performance pieces: “Autumn Wylde,” 1980
7     Performance pieces: “Bound to Be Free,” 1986 and undated
8     Performance pieces: “Cantus,” 1988 and undated
9     Performance pieces: “Caravan Serai,” undated
10    Performance pieces: “Center Man,” undated
11    Performance pieces: “Conversations for Seven Souls,” 1986 and undated
12    Performance pieces: “Dreamtime,” undated
13    Performance pieces: “Duke Street,” 1984–1986 and undated
14    Performance pieces: “Ebony Concerto,” undated
15    Performance pieces: “Elegy,” undated
16    Performance pieces: “The Element in Which It Takes Place,” undated
17    Performance pieces: “Forces of Rhythm,” undated
18    Performance pieces: “I Told Jesus,” undated
19    Performance pieces: “Joy,” undated
20    Performance pieces: “Ladder Dance,” undated
Box 8
1     Performance pieces: “LaValse,” 1979 and undated
2     Performance pieces: “Lelio,” undated
3     Performance pieces: “Love ‘n Pain,” undated
4     Performance pieces: “Men Against the Wall,” undated
5     Performance pieces: “Nuevo Tango,” undated
6     Performance pieces: “Pacings,” 1988 and undated
7     Performance pieces: “Pale Lotus,” undated
8     Performance pieces: “Pretty is Skin Deep, Ugly is to the Bone,” undated
9     Performance pieces: “A Rag, a Bone, and a Hank of Hair,” undated
10    Performance pieces: “Ritual,” 1979
11    “Ritornello,” 1986
12    “Ritornello,” 1989
13    “Ritornello,” Undated
14    “Rosa,” undated
15    “Shadow Sisters,” undated
16    “Southern Landscape,” undated
17    “Such Sweet Morning Song,” undated
18    Unidentified performances
Box 9
1      Unidentified performances
2      “White Dragon,” 1989 and undated
3      Miscellaneous Groups
4      Miscellaneous Individuals
5-6    Miscellaneous Negatives
7      Miscellaneous Snapshots (7 envelopes)
Series 5: Publicity
8      Audition announcements, 1981–1995
Box 10
1      Marketing materials, undated
2      Newsletters, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1995, 1996
Performances, reviews, and articles
(Clippings, flyers, and announcements)
3      1972–1975
4      1976–1977
5      1978–1981
6      1982–1983
7      1984–1985
8      1986
9      1987–1988
10     1989
11     1990
12     1991
Box 11
1      1992
2      1993
3      1994
4      1995
5      1996
6      1997
Box 12
1      1997
2      1998
3      1999
4      2000
5      2001-2005
6-7    Undated
Box 13
Promotional items
“$3 to 1 for Philadanco” buttons, undated
“#9 The Dance Place” t-shirt, undated
20th Anniversary t-shirt, 1990
“Company of the 21st Century” t-shirt, undated
“Danco II 12th anniversary” t-shirt, undated
“Danco Dollar Day” fund collection canister, undated
Glass mug, undated
“Golf for the Arts” hat, undated
Golf classic shirt, 1995
“I Bought-a-Brick for Philadanco” bumper sticker, undated
Box 14 (oversize)
“24st Annual Spring Concert Series,” 1994
“25 Years of Excellence, 1995
"26st Annual Spring Concert Series,” 1996
“31st Annual Spring Concert Series,” 2001
CIBA Award for Distinction in Advertising, 1980
“It’s a Knockout,” 1987
Box 15 (oversize cont.)
Philadanco in concert, Johnston Hall 1979 and undated (3 posters)
Box 16
1-3     Promotional magazines of Philadanco, undated
Series 6: Miscellaneous
4      Awards and citations, 1976–1999
5      Biographies, fact sheets, and repertoire information, undated
6      Costume drafts, undated
7      International Association of Blacks in Dance newsletters and brochure, 1991–1999
8      Joan Myers–Brown, 1986–2004
              (Awards, biographical information, and the text of speech given by Ms. Myers Brown upon receipt of honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, 2004)
Box 15 (oversize cont.)
Citations: City of Philadelphia, 2002
Citations: City Council of Philadelphia, 2002
Citations: Pennsylvania legislative Black Caucus, 2002
Citations: Senate of Pennsylvania, 2002
Citations: Pennsylvania House of representatives, 2002
Box 16 (cont.)
9       Premier performance tickets, 1972
10     Script for “Roots/Reflections,” undated
11     Teaching materials, 1996, 1997, and undated