Black people have gathered together to celebrate our traditions through dance for centuries. And when our civil, moral and social freedoms were challenged and at times stifled, we found another way for our voices to be heard. The idea began with an individual, Joan Myers Brown, Founder/ Executive Artistic Director of Philadanco!, who called together like-minded visionaries to meet a need – thus, the birth of The International Association of Blacks in Dance, Inc (IABD).
Thirty-two years later, January 14 – 19, 2020, the dance service organization, IABD in partnership with Philadanco!, will convene the dance community at its Annual International Conference and Festival in Philadelphia, PA. This Conference and Festival is a fully immersive experience for all things Black Dance. An Environment for dance exploration and exchange, the stage has been set by IABD and Philadanco! to highlight and validate the significant contributions, connections and influence that dance by people of African ancestry or origin have on the American and International cultural landscapes.
Highlighting Philadelphia’s art and cultural district, the conference and festival unites Philly’s Bellevue, Cambria, DoubleTree, Holiday Inn, Hotels, The Kimmel Center and its Merriam Theater, The Rock School for Dance Education, and The University of the Arts creating a dance lover’s cultural playground all the while celebrating the brilliance of the Black Dance Sector.
Through curated conference and festival programming that includes an awards celebration, dance and master classes, networking opportunities, performances, social events, and so much more, this five-day dance experience engages attendees with a multitude of invaluable opportunities to expand their understanding of Black Dance history and technique and charges its registrants to promote a vibrant future for dance. Conference and Festival sessions are designed to make you move, talk, learn, & more. This year’s highlighted activity – four performances over five days, bringing over 40 dance companies together on one stage.
Consistent with the core values of IABD, to provide choreographers and companies an artistic outlet and opportunity to present their work, the conference and festival will feature four breathtaking performances over four days. For three days, beginning on Wednesday, January 15, experience over forty performing companies consisting of youth, collegiate, and established professional dance companies.
On Saturday, January 18, the historic Merriam Theatre at the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus will provide the backdrop for the pièce de résistance of the performances and the culmination of the 2020 Performance Presentations: IABD’s five internationally renowned founding companies – Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Lula Washington Dance Theatre and Philadanco!, The Philadelphia Dance Company – will perform, along with acclaimed special guests, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company and Urban Bush Women. A gathering of dance companies of this caliber on one stage is a once in a lifetime opportunity – make sure you are one of the few to experience it.
This year’s conference and festival will also feature IABD’s on the 1 | dance class series. This program presents world renowned dance faculty and celebrated instructors who work professionally in various aspects of the industry for three days of technical training and innovative methodologies. on the 1 | philadelphia will feature 63 international teaching artists, 90 dance classes at the University of the Arts. Classes are $25/class for IABD members and $35/class for non-members. Some faculty members include, Chris Grant, Anthony Burrell, Jason Samuel Smith, Dormeisha, Ronald K Brown, Christopher Huggins, Ray Mercer & more.
In keeping with the conference and festival theme, THEN NOW NEXT, IABD will host an Awards Celebration during the Founders and Invited Guests Performance, Saturday, January 18, 2020, at the Merriam Theater,250 S Broad St Philadelphia, PA. 19102, honoring the contributions of five treasured Honorees, all whose timeless work has maintained the integrity and brilliance of Blacks in dance and the City of Philadelphia. Ronne Arnold will receive the International Acclaim Legendary Artist Award, Marian Godfrey will receive the Reginald Van Lee Outstanding Philanthropy Award, Kavin T. Grant will be awarded the IABD Inspirational Artist Award, posthumously, Derrick Minter will also receive the IABD Inspirational Artist Award, posthumously, and Dr. Glory Van Scott will be awarded the IABD Scholar Award.
Continuing a tradition of progress, IABD will host its Ballet Auditions for Women and Men of Color January 18-19, 2020. Opportunities for scholarship dollars to summer intensives and collegiate programs are made possible to IABD members through the Youth and Artists Summer Intensive Scholarship auditions. On Sunday, January 19th, the Multi-Company Dance audition is open to the public and IABD members, providing dancers an invaluable opportunity to audition for positions in companies around the world. There are more than $500,000 in scholarship, tuition and professional development opportunities to be awarded!
“In this cultural exchange, we will share with and educate one another through creative expression and discussion of those legendary artists who shaped the blueprint for Black Dance THEN, those championing the narrative NOW, and cultivating the opportunities for what’s NEXT”, says IABD President and CEO, Denise Saunders Thompson.
Registration is open now. Although IABD is a member organization, our conference & festival and its activities and events are open to the public. Visit www.iabdassociation.org/mpage/conference2020 to learn more.
The International Association of Blacks in Dance preserves and promotes dance by people of African ancestry or origin, and assists and increases opportunities for artists in advocacy, audience development, education, funding, networking, performance, philosophical dialogue, and touring. IABD has become the Mecca for Blacks in Dance such as administrators, artists, choreographers, dance companies, directors, educators, scholars, and those interested in artistry, black dance issues, and performance presentations. The Association, founded in 1991, provides a network, formal newsletters, choreographers directory, published papers and is the raison d’être for the annual conference and festival. The Association also responds to and initiates dialogue around issues that impact the Black Dance Community as well as the Dance community at large. IABD has developed national prominence and allowed the Black Dance Community to come together on issues important to them. www.iabdassociation.org
The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) is a nonprofit organization that presents the highest quality of professional dance performance and improves the skills of emerging and professional dancers and choreographers in a nurturing environment, while increasing the appreciation of dance among its many communities. Across the nation and around the world, PHILADANCO is celebrated for its innovation, creativity and preservation of predominantly African-American traditions in dance. www.philadanco.org
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