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IABD – An LA Adventure


 

The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) is a network for artists, administrators, practitioners and academics to come together, both to highlight and seek to resolve key issues and also to celebrate the tenacity and strength of the Black dance community.

The association was founded by Joan Myers Brown, who as you may know is Serendipity’s first patron. She talks about the founding of IABD in Identity and Choreographic Practice, explaining that she thought the first meeting would just be five people around her kitchen table and sixty people turned up. Now over five hundred delegates attend the four day event which takes place in a different North American city each year.

Pawlet and Joan Myers Brown
Pawlet and Joan Myers Brown

It was a fantastic opportunity to meet with pioneers and trailblazers, such as Delores Brown, one of the first professional African-American ballerinas, who appeared in the documentary Black Ballerina (2016), actor Antonio Fargas, who played Huggy Bear in the television series Starsky and Hutch, Dr Yvonne Daniel, who is Professor Emerita of Dance and African American Studies at Smith College Denise Saunders Thompson, the president and CEO of IABD, Halifu Osumare, Professor Emerita of African American and African Studies at the University of California, Davis, who has just published a new memoir of her experiences as a Black dancer, Zarkary Royce from Howard University, and Shaun McLeod, New York Institute of Dance and Education who has been working to empower communities in New York whilst creating a new codified technique, the McLeod Technique.

Pawlet, Antoinio and Julie
Pawlet, Antoinio and Julie

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We also had an chance to meet with the rising talent making new pathways for change, including Sage of Brown Girls do ballet. But these are just a few of the wonderful people we met at IABD, making new connections internationally and sharing information about the forthcoming programme of events for LDIF18.

Sage from Brown Girls do Ballet
Sage from Brown Girls do Ballet

We also bumped into some familiar faces; Mercy Nabirye and Heather Benson from One Dance UK, Gail Parmel, Ian Parmel and Iona from ACE Dance and Music, and Tia-Monique from De Montfort University, with who I shared a panel discussion around Black British Dance. Patrick Parson, Ballet Creole, a leading company providing opportunities for Black dancers in Canada, who spoke at LDIF14’s conference ‘Creolizing Dance in a Global Age’ and Antoine Hunter, Urban Jazz Dance Company who will be appearing as part of LDIF18.

Tia-Monique, Ian, Iona, Pawlet, Gail and Julie
Tia-Monique, Ian, Iona, Pawlet, Gail and Julie

IABD was also a chance to share Serendipity’s publications with a wider audience, and the books proved extremely popular, including Identity and Choreographic Practice which arrived just in time!

We have returned to the UK with memories of LA sunshine and the fantastic time we had at IABD.