Visionary Joan Myers Brown visits NBS

“Step out and take a chance on being something that you think you can be, regardless of who says you can't.”

Last month we had the privilege of welcoming the indomitable Joan Myers Brown on our campus for a special visit, which included two incredible talks and Q&As with our students. Joan Myers Brown was one of our virtual guest speakers earlier this year at Assemblée Internationale 2023 and we are so grateful that our students had the opportunity to meet her and take in her inspiring words in person.

Joan Myers Brown is a trailblazer in the world of dance with an immeasurable impact. Ms. Brown grew up during segregation and has been championing equity in dance for over 60 years, creating opportunities for Black dancers by establishing the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts in 1960 and The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco!) in 1970. She is the honorary chairperson for the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), an organization she established in 1991, Founder of the International Conference of Black Dance Companies in 1988, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts and Howard University in Washington, DC. Ms. Brown has won many accolades and received the prestigious National Medal of Arts Award from President Barack Obama and the United States Embassy’s Award for Cultural Diplomacy.

With such a remarkable and accomplished career, students asked Joan Myers Brown if there was something she wished she had done, but didn’t get the chance. Ms. Brown responded with her inspiring outlook. “I think that I've pretty well done most of the things I thought I wanted to do, but when you look around, there's always more to do and you have to say who's going to do it? Then you say, if not them, must be me. And I try to do things that I think will make a difference, not just for myself, but for other people.”

Ms. Brown shared stories from her personal journey with ballet and the conversation concluded with what she hoped to see for the art form in the future. “I would like to see Ballet in America look like America because we're all different. We are not all the same. Why shouldn't every youngster who wants to be a dancer have an opportunity? I may not live to see that, but I think that's my dream to make sure that that happens. That everyone gets an opportunity if they want it, regardless of whatever they want to be. But my thing for ballet is to make it look like the rest of the world. We're all different. Nobody has to always be just like cookie cutters.”

What a true honour it was to have Joan Myers Brown share her invaluable time with our students.

Joan Myers Brown pictured with senior NBS students.

Joan Myers Brown in conversation with John Alleyne and student moderator, Marley.

Joan Myers Brown pictured with senior NBS students.

Joan Myers Brown in conversation with John Alleyne and student moderator, Sophia.

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