Kim Bears Bailey has been named the artistic director of Philadanco, the company announced Thursday, replacing founder Joan Myers Brown in that role.

Brown, 88, has led the company for 50 years. She will become artistic adviser and retain her title of founder.

She has long said she would step down from the top artistic position after Philadanco’s 50th anniversary celebrations, which were cut short in the spring by coronavirus. The company plans to continue the festivities when it can return to the stage.

Brown was not immediately available for comment.

At the 2017, Industry Icon Awards, Philadanco Board Members pose by a photograph of their honoree Joan Myers Brown, Founder/Executive Artistic Director of Philadanco. L-R: Colette DeChaus, Jacqueline Roberts, Kim Bears Bailey, Assistant Artistic Director, and Veronica Castillo-Perez.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
At the 2017, Industry Icon Awards, Philadanco Board Members pose by a photograph of their honoree Joan Myers Brown, Founder/Executive Artistic Director of Philadanco. L-R: Colette DeChaus, Jacqueline Roberts, Kim Bears Bailey, Assistant Artistic Director, and Veronica Castillo-Perez.

Bears Bailey had been a dancer with the company and more recently the assistant artistic director. She won a Bessie Award in 1992, appeared in the movie Beloved, has taught all over the world, and has been a repetiteur for many choreographers, reconstructing their works for companies to perform.

Philadanco has restructured its artistic staff in other ways as well.

Dancer Janine Beckles becomes the assistant to the artistic director, in addition to her current position of touring assistant. Marlisa Brown Swint, Brown’s daughter, becomes the director of operations and touring.

Donald Lundsford II will be the artistic director of D2, the junior company, and Joe Gonzalez will head up D3, the student performing troupe.

Ray Mercer, Christopher Huggins, and Tommy Waheed Evans will be artists in residence.

The board of directors also announced its intentions to renovate its West Philadelphia building and update all systems.