“Cultivate an engaged listening and learning process…”

A joyful shout-out to Philadelphia Dance Company in honor of the 50th anniversary and a warm welcome to their new Interim Executive Director Gaynell Sherrod.   We are excited to hear her thoughtful vision with her answers to our questions of the day.



What revs you up to go to work in the morning?

I am always inspired by the art form; for me, dance is a transformative and restorative embodied practice to experience – both visually and physically. And, when I lean into that personal awareness combined with the organization’s mission and vision in support of that, then I am excited about going to work every day.


What about your work keeps you up at night?

Sometimes at night I ponder about issues and concerns carried over from the day, such as figuring out ways (plans) to build on the staff’s ideas and best processes to manifest buoyant ideas for expanding the organization’s programming and reach. And, thinking about best practices for cultivating community within and outside of the organization.


When do you know your work is making a difference?

I know that my work is making a difference when, a) I hear a testimony about how the work shifted a person’s thinking, b) I see a definitive ripple effect based on a practice that was implemented under my guidance, and c) people around me are inspired to do more expansive work.


What is the best tip you can give to someone doing arts education programs like yours?

I think my best advice to someone doing work in dance education programs is two-fold, a) always be prepared and steeped in a clear understanding of the work, and b) cultivate an engaged listening and learning process with your client base.


Share a book you read that changed how you think about your work.

I’d like to share two books: The Source of Self-regard by Toni Morrison

Stony Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


Best. Snack. Ever.

I thoroughly enjoy snacking on a bowl of freshly popped popcorn seasoned with “Complete Herbal” and cayenne seasonings. Yummy.

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

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