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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, March 22, 2023


March 21, 2004 – The stage of the Reichhold Center for the Arts on the University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus will come alive with the sights, sounds and emotions of the internationally acclaimed Philadanco! dance company on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the second performance of the theater's 25th anniversary season.
A 15-member troupe will perform some of the more popular works in the company's repertoire, showcasing a diverse range of styles and movements. The show will feature "Suite Otis," choreographed by George Faison; "Hand Singing Song," choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; "Exotica," choreographed by Ronald K. Brown and "Enemy Behind the Gates," choreographed by former Alvin Ailey dancer Christopher Huggins to music by Steve Reich.
"Hand Singing Song" is a portion of "Messages from the Heart," a four-part piece by female choreographers integrating folk and modern dance styles in a work encompassing issues of class, gender, race and the human spirit.
Philadanco! tours worldwide as the City of Philadelphia's unofficial ambassador. It is the resident dance company of the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which urges on its Web site that non-residents "schedule your Philadelphia visit around one of its home runs, because whether they are swirling in ankle-length chiffon to music by Ravel in ‛La Valse' or strutting Black Panther attitude in Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's ‛Hand Singing Song,' Philadanco!'s dancers blaze across the stage with the joy of dancing."
Dance Magazine called the Philadanco! dancers collectively "a miracle of skill and energy," adding: "They work in a range of idioms most companies don't even try to possess."
The Pittsburgh Dance Council has said of the company: "The sleek physicality and exuberance of the African-American dance troupe Philadanco is an earthy exposition of individual pride, relationships, struggle and the sheer joy of dance. Under the artistic direction of Joan Myers Brown, this company has earned recognition for its chiseled technique, flying leaps and impassioned dancing."
The company was founded in 1970 by Brown, described on the Kimmel Center site as "a national force majeure for African-American dance" on the Kimmel Center Web site (which also reveals that the dancers call her Aunt Joan or JB). More than 600 dancers audition annually for the company's rare openings.
Philadanco! has grown from a community arts organization based in West Philadelphia to a 17-member dance company celebrated throughout the world. Brown and her dancers are famed for innovative choreography, blending African-American-based dance with ballet, modern and jazz styles. The company continually premieres new productions and performs nationally and internationally for about 40 weeks of each year.
Brown founded the company in order to provide performing opportunities to students of the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, which she had founded 10 years earlier.
"Lovers of dance will have a feast at the Philadanco! performance," Reichhold director David Edgecombe says. "They are going to be dynamic."
Recognized as one of the finest dance companies in the world, Philadanco! is committed as part of its continuing mission to present the highest quality of professional dance performances and improve the skills of emerging and professional dancers and choreographers.
"Dance is a very important part of the arts, and at Reichhold we try to cover as many areas of the arts as possible," Edgecombe says. "We also like to do programs that encourage our own performers to be involved."
In this regard, Philadanco! dancers will be offering a free master class at 5 p.m. on Friday on the Reichhold stage. Dancers from the troupe will teach the Horton Technique, developed by Lester Horton – a fusion of African and Native American movements that combine jazz, modern dance and ballet. Class space is limited and those wishing to participants are asked to reserve space early by calling the Reichhold ticketing center at 693-1559.
Tickets for Saturday's performance are $45 in the covered section and $28 and $18 in the newly refurbished open-air seating areas. They're being sold at the Reichhold box office, the UVI bookstore (in the Sports and Fitness Center), Parrot Fish Music, both Modern Music shops and Krystal & Gifts Galore on St. Thomas. For more information, or to purchase tickets using a major charge card, call the ticketing center at 693-1559.
The redesigned Reichhold Web site is operational and you can see the seating options on the "Buy Tickets" page. So far, that cannot be done online, but the page gives phone and fax numbers, hours of operation and the e-mail address of the box office.

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