Dance Scholarship Renamed to Honor Philadanco’s Joan Myers Brown

Artist, visionary, and entrepreneur, Joan Myers Brown is the founder of the world-renowned Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) and the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts.

With the profound influence of Joan Myers Brown’s mentorship on a former dancer with her company, PHILADANCO, Francisco Gella Dance Works (FGDW) was created in 2014 to further the artistic and human development of aspiring young artists. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Francisco Gella (PHILADANCO, 1998-2002), FGDW has hosted transformative education and training programs for pre-professional dancers every year throughout North America. Each allows for equitable access to aspiring dancers pursuing and achieving their career goals through a robust scholarship program. The mission of the company is to empower young dancers to embark on a journey that allows them to discover themselves through dance, encourages them to believe in their own power and potential, and most importantly, teaches them to take the lessons they have learned while under the organization’s care and guidance.

In an effort to continue Ms. Brown’s legacy and impact, and in celebration of her 90th birthday this month, the Francisco Gella Dance Works Equity Scholarship Program will now officially be known as The Joan Myers Brown Equity Scholarship Fund. This program awards more than $50,000 a year to young dancers. In addition, FGDW is proud to announce the launch of two annual full scholarships to any of its programs. These will be named the Joan Myers Brown Emergence Scholarships and will be awarded to pre-professional black dancers at the annual International Association of Blacks in Dance auditions held each January. 

Francisco states, “My artistic development and the life lessons I learned while dancing with the company, and the mentorship of Joan Myers Brown, has shaped me in so many ways and continues to positively influence me personally and professionally to this day. The best way I can think of to pay that back is to pay it forward to future generations of artists and leaders by furthering the continued legacy of this remarkable woman.”

More information and an application to the fund may be found online at

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