PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia's prestigious modern Black dance company, Philadanco, is back on tour for the first time since the pandemic hit.
On Saturday, September 18, the company graced the stage at the Kimmel Center.
"It's been a Godsend to start. A drastic difference because for me, as a dancer, it's all about touring and being in front of an audience," said principal dancer Janine Beckles.
The company's first stop is in Muncie, Indiana, and then they're headed to Michigan. They're back in the groove and taking master classes while at their first stop.
"This is something people want, to be like an escape from what they're dealing with. No one wants to be on video anymore watching and doing Zooms," Beckles said.
Philadanco, founded by Joan Myers Brown in 1970, has been recognized by several presidents, including President Barack Obama. But the second the leader found out about the coronavirus in March of 2020, she immediately got her dancers off tour in Switzerland.
"Thank God for my daughter who got us on a plane and out of there. We actually had to land in Newark because Philadelphia wasn't ready for transportation to come in from Europe," said Joan Myers Brown.
Over the past year and a half, Philadanco dancers took classes via Zoom and in-studio with masks on. They were able to stay on the payroll the majority of the time.
Brown says she was leery with putting her dancers back on tour.
She adds they are taking full precautions with sanitizing at every stop, all dancers are fully vaccinated, and everyone is wearing masks most times.
The company will soon return to perform in Philadelphia in mid-October.
"All the rehearsals, all the blood, sweat, and tears," Artistic Director Kim Bailey-Bears said. "The end result is when you see that curtain open, and the magic happens."