Santa Barbara Dance Theater; Photo by Brandon Whited
Santa Barbara Dance Theater; Photo by Brandon Whited

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THE DANCE ENTHUSIAST ASKS: Kim Bears-Bailey of Philadanco About Leading A Legacy Dance Company

THE DANCE ENTHUSIAST ASKS: Kim Bears-Bailey of Philadanco About Leading A Legacy Dance Company
Sammi Lim/Follow @ilikeloofahs on Instagram

By Sammi Lim/Follow @ilikeloofahs on Instagram
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Published on January 11, 2021
DANCO 3 Juniors (aka D/3 minis). Credit: J Harris

BIO: A 1992 “Bessie” Award recipient, Kim has represented Philadanco as early as 1988, at the American Dance Festival. The Associate Professor of Dance at the University of the Arts is one of few artists granted permission to remount the works of many world-renowned choreographers including Talley Beatty, Pearl Primus and Gene Hill Sagan. [Continued]

*In this three part series, we ask the new leaders of three legacy companies what they’re up to this pandemic season.


Sammi Lim on behalf of The Dance Enthusiast: What is the atmosphere like at Philadanco this month?        

Kim Bears-Bailey, Artistic Director of Philadanco: I would say the atmosphere at PHILADANCO is staff and dancers focused on maintaining our daily operations at its fullest capacity (following all CDC guidelines) so that PHILADANCO continues to thrive and remain present even in these unprecedented times.  Also, as it shifts daily just figuring out how to navigate all the protocols associated with this pandemic — what’s next and trying to stay ahead of it all.

Kim Bears-Bailey. Photo credit: Julieanne Harris

The Dance Enthusiast: How would you describe the past month of leading the Company? Has it been a small or big jump from the role of Assistant Artistic Director to Artistic Director?   

Kim Bears-Bailey: Understanding that I lead as a collective — the transition of leadership is something I have been groomed for many years now — so it’s not a huge leap for where I was. I will continue to stand on the shoulders of Founder Joan Myers Brown.  The beauty of all who have the privilege to move up in the ranks of PHILADANCO is that comes with a wealth of support and guidance that ultimately assist in you being successful in the transition.  So, I would say a small jump to bigger possibilities. 

The Dance Enthusiast: I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of good and bad bosses; while I try to mimic the examples of the former, I avoid the mistakes of the latter. Do you do likewise? What is your approach towards leadership?

Kim Bears-Bailey: Well, I have to say in all honesty, that I am blessed and fortunate to have an extraordinary boss who nurtures, mentors, trust and supports and brings it to you ‘real’ — all the ingredients one needs to soar.

My approach is to continue to maintain the excellence of the organization and most of all its product (the artists) that which has sustained the company for 50 years, and to bring a creative voice to new ideas and initiatives for the company.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

PHILADANCO and D/2 in Forces of Rhythm

The Dance Enthusiast: How do you handle disagreements among your team members?

Kim Bears-Bailey: Like family (we are),  we talk through every dynamic at PHILADANCO: the highs, the lows, the uncomfortable conversations with the objective of resolving so that we can move on and move forward.  I wouldn’t even call it disagreements, because as a team we all made the conscious decision to come on board because we believe in the vision of Joan Myers Brown, PHILADANCO and its foundation.

The Dance Enthusiast: What is the hardest decision you’ve had to make while working with Philadanco?

Kim Bears-Bailey: I would have to say the auditions process, when we are looking for perspective Company members and have to make that final cut. Recognizing that some of the dancers you have to turn away is not because they are not talented or qualified, but in most cases, it's because you don’t have the financial means to hire more than one or two.

DANCO 2 (D/2) Apprentice Company. Photo credit: J Harris

The Dance Enthusiast: "Who is Kim Bears Bailey?" How would you answer this prompt about yourself in the third party?

Kim Bears-Bailey: Kim Bears-Bailey is a dancer bitten by muscle memory, a teacher driven by passion and the continuum, and a mentor accessed by love and necessity. Kim  loves, cares and is forever committed to her families off and on the stage.  She is passionate about PHILADANCO, chocolate mousse and a good love story!  Kim is someone who is dedicated to maintaining the legacy of PHILADANCO as well as the integrity and depth of works by  legendary artists / choreographers.                                                                                                                                                                                           

The Dance Enthusiast: Thank you, Ms Bears-Bailey!

Kim Bears-Bailey: Thank you again for the conversation!


The Dance Enthusiast Asks questions and creates conversation.
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