Dance Review: IABD and Philandanco!’s “THEN NOW NEXT”

IABD and Philandanco! present “THEN NOW NEXT”

The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) and Philandanco! have partnered to bring an exceptional roster of talented dancers to the Merriam Theater from January 15-18, highlighting incredible companies from across the country.  In addition, they are facilitating a multi-company dance audition opportunity for men and women of color on January 18th and 19th.  This unique showcase is the 32nd iteration of the Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance, and it is designed to embody the theme “THEN NOW NEXT.”

Kulu Mele African Dance and Drum Ensemble
Kulu Mele perform on the Philly & Friends night of THEN NOW NEXT.  Photo by Scott Robbins

The opening night of the festival brought together a diverse group of performers with roots in Philadelphia.  Each night of the festival offers audiences a new experience and perspective, ensuring there is a performance for everyone.  Spread over four incredible evenings, “THEN NOW NEXT” offers a new theme each night:  “Philly & Friends” on 1/15, “Trendsetters” on 1/16, “Torchbearers” on 1/17, and “Trailblazers” on 1/18.  “Trendsetters” will offer audiences a view of up-and-coming collegiate and youth performers, while “Torchbearers” will honor black dance traditions from celebrated companies, and “Trailblazers” is designed to provide an incredible evening of performances by a diverse group of choreographers and repertoires.

Danse4Nia Repertory Ensemble
Danse4Nia Repertory Ensemble performs “Deliverance” at Philly & Friends.  Photo by Scott Robbins.

The “Philly & Friends” opening night performances provided a variety of work that ranged from dark and brooding to celebratory and exuberant.  Some of the pieces, including the opening performance of an excerpt from “Fula Fare” by Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble enticed and encouraged audience engagement, while others required deep internal reflection.  Two pieces used audio effectively by recalling painful events including the murders of Trayvon Martin and  Philando Castille.  The evening ebbed and flowed between these stark offerings from Waheed Works and DMB|#dbdanceproject, and the ecstasy of Straight to the Pointe’s “He’s Working” and Just Sole! Street Dance Theater Company’s “From the Root (excerpt),” with plenty other territory covered in the areas between.  With such a wide array of offerings, there was not a single member of the audience left wanting.

Just Sole! Street Dance Theater Company
Just Sole! Dance Theater Company ended the evening with an energetic flourish.  Photo by Scott Robbins.


The coming nights’ performances look to be equally as captivating.  With pieces by renowned companies including B.MOORE DANCE, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco! and many, many more.  Anyone interested in supporting IABD and its mission should check out the full list of performers and additional details regarding the festival on their website.

If you are interested in attending any of the upcoming performances at the Merriam Theater, tickets can be purchased online through the Kimmel Center’s website.  They are $50 for members of IABD and $60 for the general public.  You can also go to IABD’s website to learn more about the auditions being offered.

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