By Walter Rutledge
The 40th Anniversary season of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center will conclude on Tuesday June 28 with a special by Philadanco and Marshall Swiney.
The season has presented forty artists over a four-day period. In keeping with the mission of the organization’s credo many of the artists were new and emerging artist. For the Tuesday June 28th performance the featured choreographer and company have a long history with the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center (THPAC). Marshall Swiney is the former Artistic Director of THPAC from 1995 through 2004. Following the untimely death of Executive Director Melvin Davis Swiney worked directly with Executive Chairman Alex Smith Jr.
Swiney has choreographed a little known reading by Martin Luther King Jr.’s of his iconic Letter From A Birmingham Jail. “We are standing in the doorway looking forward but thinking back”, states Swiney about the choreographic process. Three male dancers from the Hampton, Virginia based Riddick Dance will perform the work.
In 1970 the Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) was founded to provide performance opportunities for an underserved African-American population. Within a short period the company began to distinguish itself as Philadelphia’s rising dance company. THPAC founder Larry Phillips astutely presented Philadanco on numerous occasions, which helped introduce the company to an entirely new audience.
“I wanted to pay back for all Larry did for us in the early days”, says Philadanco Founder and Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown. Soon Philadanco became a regional sensation and the dancers became highly sort after by major dances companies throughout the country. In fact, during the late 70’s and early 80’s the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center literally became the New York chapter of Philadanco; when dancers Kevin Brown, Deborah Chase, Gary DeLoatch, Danni Gee, Debra Manning, and David St. Charles went from being “Danco Dolls” to “Ailey Divas”.
Jeroboam Bozeman- Philadanco
The prevailing professionalism and artistic integrity still produces sort after artists. Most recently Jeroboam Bozemen, a rising star in the Ailey Company, acknowledges the role Philadanco and Brown as played in his artistic development. The company will perform Christopher Huggins sextet Latched with music by Sohn.
There will be a reception immediately following the performance. For more information and tickets visit www.thelmahill.com tickets can also be purchased at the box office 30 minutes before the performance.