Moving Over: A Powerhouse of Black Dance Is Retiring (Mostly)

Do they have dark skin?

No, it’s not. To teach them, I had to be their teacher.

Is Kim also in charge of the school?

The school, on the other hand, isn’t part of the business. It was a school for our company for its first decade, but after we bought the facility, we switched things around. Rent is paid by the school to the enterprise. Because I was a single mom, I decided to keep the school for profit so that I would have an income.

The Joan Myers Brown School of the Arts is the proposed name for a new charter school to be built by the String Theory School.

There is a school named after you?

Ali [Willingham, artistic director of Danco3] is there because he teaches the way I want people to teach—he knows the craft, breaks down the movement, demands improvement, and doesn’t show off. Many of our young people are more interested in getting noticed than mastering a skill, so I set up a programme for those who express a genuine interest in taking classes and performing.

You’ve heard of the Black Lives Matter movement, haven’t you?

That happened to me three times: in 1962, 1988, and 1995. When white people in power say, “Y’all got to aid Black people,” they help us, but when the money runs out, they’re gone. Has it occurred to you that every Dance Magazine advertisement has a Black model? When someone says, “I got one!” it is as if they are boasting.

Do you see the I.A.B.D. conferences as a home base for the Black dance community?

Even though we were a mess at our first few conferences, it made us glad to be together. Denver natives Cleo [Parker Robinson], Jeraldyne [Blunden], Lula [Washington], and Ann [Williams] make up the quartet. As a result, we were able to gain new insights about our companies, as well as the organisations of others who were doing the same thing.

For DanceUSA, it was said that Mikki Shepard brought us together. Back then, I served on the board of DanceUSA. This is not benefitting black people, so I said, “I’ve got to walk out of here and establish my own business.”

They want to disregard what we’ve learned, which is OK, but I believe that experience has value. Since its inception as an informal gathering to share information, IABD has evolved into an organisation that provides a wide range of services to its members.