Penn Live Arts Blog

Philadelphia School of Dance Arts celebrates 60th anniversary

Posted June 9, 2020

Dance Special Features

In December, we presented Philadelphia’s beloved dance company, PHILADANCO, in Xmas Philes, an original Annenberg Center commission. Led by esteemed executive and artistic director Joan Myers Brown, the company is not only celebrating its 50th anniversary this season, but its Philadelphia School of Dance Arts is commemorating 60 amazing years of dance education.

Having grown up in West Philadelphia, Myers Brown knew she wanted to give back to the neighborhood, and she met this goal by founding the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts in 1960. Over the years, the school has welcomed thousands of students, inspiring many successful alums including Tony Award®-winning singer/actor Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton, Smash) and Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker/producer Lee Daniels (The Butler, Empire). Furthering the school’s reach around the globe, PHILADANCO was formed in 1970, and now boasts three apprentice and youth companies in addition to the renowned professional ensemble.

There is certainly much to honor in the school’s long history and its leaders knew they had to figure out a way to connect in whatever way possible amidst the pandemic. So, on May 24, what would have been the 60th anniversary recital, they gathered for a celebratory car parade of dancers, teachers and community members. 6abc’s Ashley Johnson, also a Philadelphia School of Dance Arts alum, shared this brief video of the gathering so we can all share in the festivity.

Congratulations to Joan Myers Brown and the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts on this remarkable occasion! We are grateful for the tremendous impact you have had in fostering a love of dance in our city.