New book focuses on Philadanco founder breaking ballet’s color barrier

    Philadanco founder Joan Meyers Brown was among the first African American dancers to break the color barrier in ballet. She is the subject of a new book, “Joan Meyers Brown and the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina.”

    One of Philadelphia’s longest-running and most successful modern dance companies is Philadanco, founded over 40 years ago by Joan Meyers Brown.

    Brown grew up with dreams of becoming a ballerina, but as a black girl in Southwest Philadelphia in the 1940s, the chances of achieving that goal were slim. Ballet—a European tradition associated with aristocracy—was a white institution.

    Brown was part of the first generation of dancers to break the color barrier in ballet, and established Philadelphia as a premiere dance training region. She is the subject of the new book, “Joan Meyers Brown and the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina.”

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