Collection of Black dancers
Celebrate the brilliance of Black dance companies at Then Now Next, Jan. 15-18 at the Merriam Theater. | Image: Scott Robbins


Don’t miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see 40 leading black dance companies from all over America at THEN NOW NEXT, a dance festival that celebrates legendary and emerging Black dance companies. 

The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) has partnered with Philadanco! The Philadelphia Dance Company to bring the 32nd Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance to Philadelphia. The performances will take place at the Merriam Theater Jan. 15-18 and will celebrate the brilliance of Black dance companies while enhancing audiences’ understanding of Black dance history and technique.

“During this annual culturally rich exchange and fully immersive experience for all things Black dance, we will share with and educate one another through creative expression and discussion of those legendary artists who shaped the blueprint for Black dance THEN, those championing the narrative NOW, and cultivating the opportunities for what and who is NEXT,” IABD President and CEO Denise Saunders Thompson said.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at 215-893-1999. The Merriam Theater is located at 250 S. Broad St.

Audiences will have the chance to see world-renowned, legendary companies such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, PHILADANCO! and Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, A DanceCompany. Along with performances from long-standing and established companies Collage Dance Collective, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Eleone Dance Theatre, Elisa Monte Dance and more. The festival will also feature trendsetting companies that push the limits of every dance genre, along with an opening night performance that will honor dance companies with Philadelphia roots.

The lineup includes:


Wednesday, Jan. 15

7:30pm – 9:00pm

$50 IABD Members | $60 General Public

Join Philadelphia natives and those connected to the City of Brotherly love for the kick-off performance to the 32nd Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance.


Thursday, Jan. 16

8:00pm – 10:00pm

$50 IABD Members | $60 General Public

Pushing the limits of contemporary and traditional choreography, audiences will be inspired by an explosive range of styles and techniques, cultural origins and forms of dance. This high-energy and cutting-edge performance will feature youth and collegiate performers from throughout the country.


Friday, Jan. 17

7:30pm – 9:00pm

$50 IABD Members | $60 General Public

Carrying the legacies of Black dance pioneers forward, these companies continue to forge ahead meeting high artistic standards through an array of dance forms and techniques while providing audiences with exceptional dance performances. A celebration of various styles, national dance companies will perform choreography that can be shared with audiences of all ages.


Saturday, Jan. 18

7:30pm – 10:00pm

$50 IABD Members | $60 General Public

Mastering the works of Alvin Ailey, Katherine Dunham, Martha Graham, Lester Horton and so many others, these highly unique and respected companies define the Black dance aesthetic and continue to lead the field. Exploring the many forms, styles and techniques within dance, each company will present work that encapsulates the expression and voice from a diverse group of professional choreographers.

For more information and a complete list of performers, please visit

In addition to the performances, and continuing a tradition of progress for dancers of color, the one-of-a-kind IABD Auditions boast opportunities for youth, collegiate and professional dancers to audition for top dance companies and programs from all over the world. IABD will host its Ballet Auditions for Women and Men of Color Jan. 18-19, with premier ballet companies from the U.S. and Canada in attendance. 

Opportunities for scholarship dollars for summer intensives and collegiate programs are made possible to IABD members through the Youth and Artists Summer Intensive Scholarship Auditions. On Sunday, Jan. 19, the Multi-Company Dance Audition is open to the public and IABD members, providing dancers an invaluable opportunity to audition for positions in professional dance companies from around the world.

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