HomeTop StoriesPhiladanco dancer Janine Beckles breaks down barriers in the dance world

Philadanco dancer Janine Beckles breaks down barriers in the dance world

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – To say Janine Beckles has a busy schedule is quite an understatement. The modern dancer came to an evening class and rehearsal at Philadanco after teaching at Rowan University. Before class starts, she is upstairs in her office switching schedules.

“Take it as it is — each day as it comes,” Beckles said with a smile.

Beckles not only dances in the West Philadelphia dance company, but is also the Associate Artistic Director. She was promoted to the role in August — a role, in the dance world, usually filled by men.

“Leadership is important and it should be representative of the companies it represents,” said Beckles.

Balancing touring, rehearsing, teaching and planning, Beckles is also a student in class – virtually that is.

“It’s important, so I know what I’m doing. I don’t want to be that person in charge and not fully understand what is capable of managing different people, personalities,” Beckles said. She continued: “I want to be fully equipped to manage both worlds – the artistic world as well as [an] administrative function.”

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The dancer said she doesn’t take her opportunity to lead lightly, which is why she’s working through online classes to earn an MBA in leadership. Beckles follows a long line of women at Philadanco who have led the company for the past 50 years.

“This whole building was founded by women, especially black women at a time when that was unthinkable,” said fellow company member Mikaela Fenton. “Representation really matters. It’s important to have all the perspectives.”

Fenton is at the barre just behind Beckles in Wednesday’s class. It’s true she said she learns both in and out of Beckles’ studio.

“To see that legacy being rebuilt, but in a whole new light, in a fresher perspective, is very, very inspiring and very motivating as a woman herself,” Fenton said.

Showing others that it’s all possible is Beckles’ motivation, and for many it’s their inspiration.

“Knowing that girls who look like me, young girls, sometimes don’t see that and we have to make that possible for them,” said dancer Brandi Pinnix of the Philadanco company.

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Beckle’s schedule isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Philadanco’s season begins at the Kimmel Center in April and the Associate Artistic Director graduates from Southern New Hampshire University in May.

“I’m excited, nervous all at once because I don’t want to stop dancing and I know people automatically assume that. Well, you graduated, so the next step? The next step is both. I can do anything I’ve got my mind on it set,” said Beckles.

Beckle’s dream is to one day lead a dance company as an artistic director.

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