Dance professor E. Gaynell Sherrod joins Philadelphia Dance Company as interim executive director

Elgie Gaynell Sherrod, associate professor of dance, has joined the Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) for its 50th anniversary season as interim executive director. In her new role, Sherrod serves as a business and strategic leader for the nonprofit dance organization. This fall, Philadanco received a $420,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a $90,000 award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for new initiatives.

Sherrod had previously performed with the company before accepting a teaching role at VCUarts.

“I’m very excited about returning to the Philadelphia Dance Company in this leadership role,” says Sherrod. “When I left the company, I was intentional about using the skills and values that I learned at Philadanco to grow as a dance artist, scholar, educator and administrator. And now, years later, I am thrilled to be able to bring my combined work and life experiences back to the organization where it all started.”

Sherrod graduated from Temple University, where she earned her master’s in dance education and doctorate in dance pedagogy and theory. In addition to performing with Phildanco, she has toured with Urban Bush Women, traveled to Brazil to study African-derived spiritual dancing, and taught at Florida A&M University, New Jersey City University and New York University. She also served as director of dance education for the New York City public school system, and founded the New York City Department of Education Dance Institute.

Phildanco was created as an “outgrowth” of the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts in 1970. Founder Joan Myers Brown imbued both the school and dance company with a mission to elevate black dancers and create greater opportunities for creative expression in the African American dance tradition. Brown and Phildanco’s board of directors unanimously selected Sherrod for the role of interim executive director.