DANCE IQUAIL!, the dance and social justice organization based in the Mantua neighborhood of Philadelphia, is pleased to announce Gwendolyn Coleman’s appointment as General Manager. Coleman becomes the first full-time leader who will work in tandem with Iquail Shaheed, the founding Executive Artistic Director. This appointment marks a significant milestone for the 14-year old organization who continues to expand its programming to Black and Brown historically disinvested communities in Mantua and Philadelphia.
Coleman began her career as a dancer with PHILADANCO! and continued into a successful commercial career performing in Atlantic City, touring with the Greatest Show on Earth, and performing in Las Vegas. Coleman returned to Philadelphia, where it all began, and became the General Manager for PHILADANCO!. She later went on to consult for Contemporary West Dance Theatre in Las Vegas. Most recently, Coleman had duo roles at Freedom Theatre as Managing Director for Publications & Special Events and Interim Director of the School for Arts & Education. She has mentored and continues to mentor many dancers who have become professionals in their field, and some have even started their own dance companies.
“DANCE IQUAIL!, Iquail and I have a deeper connection other than dance,” said Coleman. “I grew up in Mantua/The Bottom, so I know this community well, along with knowing its needs. DANCE IQUAIL! has and will continue to change the lives of the Mantua community. I will be there to support his efforts. It is important for me to give back.”
“DANCE IQUAIL!’s Board of Directors and I are delighted to welcome ‘Gwen’ as the organization’s first General Manager,” said Iquail Shaheed. “For years, she’s been a true advocate for dance in Philadelphia and DANCE IQUAIL!. She brings with her a wealth of experience and knowledge of the dance ecology that will certainly allow our organization to enhance the impact of our social practice, artistic productions, and community engagement programs. We are truly blessed to have her wisdom and leadership.”
Added Coleman, “DANCE IQUAIL! has a solid foundation for its artistic excellence. As we gradually return to theaters next year, I plan to move the company to be recognized on national and international levels. I will support the work that DANCE IQUAIL! will be doing in the Mantua community with hopes it will be the model for other communities in Philadelphia and cities around the country.”
Founded in 2007, DANCE IQUAIL! (DI!) presents original dance works and community educational programs that engage social justice issues that enrich, heal, and transform through dance. DI! is a hub for innovative and inclusive arts and cultural programming for historically discriminated Philadelphians, providing arts access as the sole dance provider in the Mantua neighborhood (19104). Iquail Shaheed founded DI!, desiring to tell stories of struggle motivated by his experiences in West Philadelphia, where he was born and raised battling racism and homophobia. DI! initially operated as a concert company supporting emerging dance artists of color and diversifying the stories from marginalized communities seen onstage. Iquail expanded DI’s mission tying art creations and community engagements more intimately with Black and brown associates. DI has toured extensively in its 14-year history to U.S. cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles and New York City. DI’s international destinations have included Brussels, Sydney, Kingston, and Cape Town. DI recently traveled to Rwanda and Mauritius in 2019 on a month-long East African tour. DI’s touring activities historically range from performances in traditional concert halls to assemblies in inner-city public schools, as well as lecture-demonstrations, master classes, and community discussions. www.danceiquail.org
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