The internationally acclaimed Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) will present its inaugural Founder’s Day performance, taking place Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Dell Music Center, 33rd and Dauphin streets. The open air fundraiser is an effort to save the company, which has been struggling financially for a number of years.
“The Dell offered me an opportunity to bring dance back to the Dell, and I was trying to think of something that would make people want to respond to helping Philadanco,” said founder and Executive Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown. “[But] they would say, ‘What’s the occasion? It’s not a gala. It’s not an anniversary.’ So I came up with Founder’s Day, which is the first time they’re celebrating me. But it’s definitely a fundraiser, because I need some money.
“They stopped funding me in this town,” Brown said of Philadanco, which is one of the Kimmel Center’s eight resident companies. “I’m not getting any support out of Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s just not supporting me the way they should. When the opera [company] gets in trouble, and the ballet [company], they write the big checks. “They tell me that I’m mismanaging funds or not operating correctly or I need a COO, or I need all this other stuff. It’s really difficult.”
Brown disclosed that Philadanco is in grave danger of closing and that the dancers are “all on unemployment.”
“I’ve got two people in the office,” she said. “I’m the development director, the marketing director, the executive director and the artistic director.”
Brown’s colleagues from the arts community are stepping in to help, and Broadway/tap icon Maurice Hines will co-host the Founder’s Day program with Khaliah Ali, daughter of boxing great Muhammad Ali.
The Company will present works from its repertory including “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Enemy Behind the Gates,” “By Way of the Funk” and “Pretty is Skin Deep,” and in addition to the principal company, there will be performances by D/2 (Second Company) and D/3 (Youth Company), as well as numerous “Danco” alumnae, including Anthony Burrell, who currently works with multiple Grammy-winner Beyoncé as her lead dancer. There will also be a presentation by hip-hop dance company Rennie Harris’ RHAW.
Tickets to experience the creativity, raw power and skill that are Philadanco range from $10 for lawn seats to $100 for VIP seating, and will help the world-class company, which Brown founded as a dance school in 1970, keep its doors open.
“The thing is that Black Philadelphia needs to help us,” she said.
For tickets and information call the Dell box office at (215) 685-9560 or visit www.mydelleast.com.