DANSE4NIA REPERTORY ENSEMBLE is a Philadelphia-based, multicultural, contemporary modern dance company.  Our mission is to educate, empower, and create the next generation of well-rounded arts advocates and citizens by presenting exceptional dance works, collaborating with artists across genres, and delivering high-impact residencies.

In the Kiswahili language, the word “nia” means “purpose.” As an ensemble, we dance with a purpose — to inspire ourselves and others toward positive  personal, social and cultural change.

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Now Touring

Broken Circle
Choreographer: Shawn-Lamere Williams
A work symbolizing the trials, tribulations and obstacles that women withstand in life but find comfort and strength through bonding, camaraderie and sisterhood.
(6 dancers)

God’s Trombone/ Euphoria
Choreography: E. Leon Evans
Re-Staging: Shawn-Lamere Williams
A soulful, jazzy depiction of the creation of the world as stated in the book of Genesis. With whirls and twirls the journey of this high spirited dance will take you on the ride to the heavens.
(7 to 10 dancers)

Better Me
Choreography: A.C. Gilmore
A confession of a woman in one or three parts determined to make a new of who she is, where she wants to go and what it is going to take for her to get there.
(1 to 3 dancers)

Invisible Sisters
Choreography: Zane Booker
Inspired by the TV drama Desperate Housewives, Invisible Sisters depicts the relationship and friendship among women who live within a close net circle. There are some laughs, some cries but all around there is love and fun.
(4 dancers)

Givin’ Up
Choreography: Shawn-Lamere Williams
Is a sassy, soulful trio that gives evidence to what extremes a person is willing to go to for love or whatever there heart desires.
(3 to 7 dancers)

Choreography: Bill Thomas
Portrait is the watching of one relationship’s evolution. We watch as it evolves through the diverse emotional states of love, confusion, misunderstandings, and possible dissolution. Through the hauntingly beautiful music from the soundtrack of “The Piano” and “Vocalize”, sung by Ms. Kathleen Battle, we journey by sight and sound, the route of one human relationship, via this Portrait.
(1 dancer)

Choreography: Bill Thomas
A quartet that displays the simple joys of life and recalls moments where we feel at our best.
(4 dancers)

Choreography: Meredith Rainey
Caged is a metaphoric exploration of freedom & bondage that questions the importance & desire for one to be free. It challenges the idea of one’s own individual identity as well as the need for communal harmony.
(7 dancers)

Standing In My Own Skin
Choreographer: Hollie E. Wright
A look at the journey of one woman depicted in five parts as she ventures on self discovery of knowing, loving and accepting herself in her own skin.
(5 dancers)

Choreographer: Bill Thomas
A dance work created for a trio relates in abstract form the concept of falling from and returning to grace. Within exploring the process of understanding grace, one moves through the levels in descent to the recognition that in order to ascend, one learns ultimately that grace can never be given nor taken. Grace simply IS.
(3 dancers)

Better To Have Loved
Choreographer: A.C. Gilmore
A tribute to mothers who have lost children during the miracle of child birth or shortly there after. Though it is always painful to loss a child during the beginning stages of life, it is the comfort and joy in knowing that for a short moment in time it was better to have known that special bond and love.
(6 dancers)

Choreographer: Johari Mayfield
Borrowing from the lessons learned in The Wizard of Oz and ads from many popular anti-aging crèmes, potions and surgical procedures, hOMe is a satirical exploration of society’s urging for women to look outside of themselves for an airbrushed standard of beauty.
(6 dancers)

Falsely Accused
Choreographer: Itola Byrd
Falsely Accused is a tribute to women who have been falsely incarcerated for crimes they did not commit, and this work gives a voice to the injustice placed upon the wrongfully accused.
(7 dancers)

Billie Jean
Choreographer: Wayne St. David
Through polyrhythmic hips, sassy walks, high kicks and diva attitudes, Billie Jean recalls the finger poppin’, hip shacking, and moon walking time of MJ.
(6 to 9 dancers)

Choreographer: Nia Eubanks-Dixon
Bob your head, see some swag and pump your fist while watching this work full of hip-hop flare and Afrocentric overtones. Reminisce about the days when true hip-hop hit the scene through spoken word and the sounds of Biggie Smalls. Take a journey to that time where the rhythms of the streets was the method to pay the ultimate homage to the real spitters of Hip-Hop, the EMCEE.
(6 to 9 dancers)

The Many Shades of Me
Choreographer: A.C. Gilmore
A sensual proclamation of I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar, Many Shades of Me is a bold statement that women are and can be everything through fast turns, quick falls, high jumps and the breaking of the 4th wall to captivate the audience with a little help from the sounds of Ms. Houston.
(5 dancers)

Glory (combined work with Danse4Nia Repertory Ensemble & Nia-Next)
Choreographer: A.C. Gilmore
Commissioned by the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia, PA., appearing during the Three Kings Artist Series in tribute to Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fredrick Douglas, Glory pays homage to the Civil Rights Leaders that marched in Selma, Alabama for the African-American right to vote. Through modern and hip-hop dance, this work depicts the civil unity that is needed among our various races and cultures to make change work and become our living reality.

These 4 For
Choreographer: Meredith Rainey
Four women (a beauty queen, an introvert, a church goer and a lady of the evening) of various backgrounds and obstacles share a common bond of wanting to be seen and accepted beyond the known social stereotypes that society places upon their character. Using an abstract lens of contemporary ballet, we see their struggles, their commonality and their inner self struggle to be re-defined.

Choreographer: Nia Eubanks-Dixon
A tribute to Afghan women and all women whose lives have been immediately silenced in pursuit of their fight to have a political voice and power. Through spoken word, silence and gritty movement, Somebodiness is a visual display of feminine power for equal rights.

4 Woman Only
Choreographer: Walter Rutledge
A tribute to the girl groups of the 50’s and 60’s that takes the audience back in time with the Pony, the Swim and the Mash Potato. This fun, sassy, light hearted work keeps the audience finger poppin’ and toes tappin’ while the undertone challenges of that generation are gently reveled.

Outreach and Engagement

DANSE4NIA REPERTORY ENSEMBLE  believes that dance and other art forms can positively influence our society.  Our teaching artists are highly trained educators and professionals in the field who hold advanced terminal degrees in dance, Pilates/Yoga certifications and Pennsylvania and New York State certifications to teach in public school settings. Through our educational offerings, DANSE4NIA REPERTORY ENSEMBLE provides quality, conservatory dance and performance readiness training to the students that we serve. Our programs are best suited for participants with or without prior experience from age 7 to adult.


We are committed to educating the next of artists and arts advocates so that they may, in turn, impart the value of dance and the performing arts to others.  Our educational residencies bring one to two teachers from DANSE4NIAto present custom-designed activities that are tailored to specifically meet the needs, interests and experience levels of each community.

Current residencies: Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School – Phila., G.W. Carver High School for Engineering & Science – Phila.

Educational Workshops

Educational workshops are based on the various dance techniques offered by DANSE4NIA REPERTORY ENSEMBLE, and include reinforcement of the etiquette and standards of the dance field, audition and performance readiness and dance history. Workshops in Ballet (Vaganova), Horton Technique, West African Dance vocabularies, Hip-Hop and contemporary modern dance are available. A standard workshop begins with a center floor or ballet barre warm up, followed by adagio exercises, group combination and a mini lecture. Workshops are task-based creative sessions that give dancers opportunities to explore various techniques and an opportunity to work with highly trained, experienced and certified professionals. The sessions are enhanced by one on one interaction with the director and/or ensemble members with an opportunity to learn abbreviated combinations from the company’s repertoire. Collaborative workshops are also available to teach students how to fuse concert dance with the arts of spoken word, live music and “turntabilism”.

Master Classes

These classes are designed to  share DANSE4NIA’s expertise and movement philosophy with pre-professional, professional and college level students. Lectures on dance training and preparing for a dance career are also available. expertise and movement philosophy with pre-professional, professional and college-level students. Classes in all aforementioned techniques, jazz dance, Dunham Technique and composition are available.

Lecture – Demonstrations

These educational events  incorporate discussion, performance and audience participation to engage and create excitement and interest in the dance process.  Topics include “Horton and Beyond,” “Shades of Dance,” “African Americans in Ballet,” ‘Spoken Word & Dance,” and “Fusions of West African Dance & Hip-Hop.”

Artist's Calendar

Venue / Time
“Pentacle Presents: The Gallery: Boston”
The Dance Complex
536 Massachusetts Ave

Cambridge, MA 02139
8:00 PM
“An Evening of Wonder”
Venice Island Performing Arts Center
Philadelphia, PA


DANSE4NIA REPERTORY ENSEMBLE was created in April 2006 by Antoinette M. Coward-Gilmore to uplift, advocate for, and share the power of dance as a tool for change in Philadelphia and across the region.

Debuting “Assemble 4 Purpose” in the world renown Philly Fringe Festival in September 2006 with New York based spoken word artist Mo Beasley and International Turntablist DJ Razor Ramon, DANSE4NIA quickly became a strong performing entity, showcasing works from established choreographers Faye Snow, Shawn-Lamere Williams, and artistic director Coward-Gilmore.

Shortly after the Fringe, DANSE4NIA made noteworthy appearances at many local and community festivals as well as touring engagements including the NAACP’s 2006 Annual Gala Banquet, Maryland State Dance Conference in Baltimore, MD, and as featured dancers for the Life Story of Marvin Gaye at the famous Lincoln Theater in Washington D.C.

Moving swiftly to create a strong organizational infrastructure, DANSE4NIA established itself as an incorporated organization with a functioning board of directors in March of 2007 and received its 501(c)3 status in August of 2007.

In the same year, DANSE4NIA gained a roster position with Pennsylvania Council on the Arts as Arts/Dance Educators through the Philadelphia Arts In Education Partnership (PAEP.) In  2008- 2009, the ensemble was awarded a roster position with Pennsylvania Performing Artists on Tour (PennPat.) Through their affiliation with PennPat, Danse4Nia showcased at the Pennsylvania Presenter’s Conference at the Bynum Theater in Pittsburgh, PA.

In 2009, DANSE4NIA joined Pentacle Dance Works, Inc. (one of the leading arts management companies in the field) as a member of their Gallery Roster Artists program. Through Pentacle, DANSE4NIA appeared at the Thelma Hill Dance Festival (Brooklyn, NY) in June of 2010.

Recognizing the need to pass on the legacy of artistic excellence to the next generation and groom dancers in our philosophy and form, Nia-Next, the junior/ apprentice company of DANSE4NIA REPERTORY ENSEMBLE was established in 2009. To their credit, Nia-Next has performed at the PA State Capitol Arts In Education Day, and as guest artists at the  Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (at their MLK Day Celebration and their Dance In Schools Pogram). Nia-Next has also been featured as guest artists for the screening of Teddy Pendergrass: Unsung (sponsored by Radio One) at the Magnolia Performing Arts Center (Vineland, NJ), at the Professional Network Conference, and in a school time performance for students at Lindenwold Middle School.

Currently celebrating our 9th season, DANSE4NIA REPERTORY ENSEMBLE has gained a reputation for being a sound, annually self-producing organization who showcases regularly in New York City for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP,) and  the PennPat/Dance USA Philadelphia Presenter’s showcases. We have participated in Dance In Public Places (sponsored by Dance/UP) to help further advocate for and foster awareness of the state of concert dance here in Philadelphia and can be found showcasing actively in our community.