Karen Brown joined a regional ballet company in her early teens and subsequently became a Principal Ballerina with The Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world. As a cultural ambassador with that organization for 22 years, she toured Canada, North and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, Australia and the Pacific Rim.
Ms. Brown’s immediate transition from actively performing came in 1995 as Director of Education for the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education. She has been teaching dance and coaching pre-professional and professional dance artists since the late 80s.
As Artistic Director of Oakland Ballet (2000 – 2006), she became an experienced senior arts administrator. She is a 2011 recipient of the New York Dance and Performance Awards – The Bessies for “Sustained Achievement in Performance” for her work as a dancer with Paradigm, Dance Legends in Concert (NYC).
She is also a published writer, a sought after adjudicator and a requested panelist for national and international dance industry conferences. She was a full-time Assistant Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia teaching for six years, and was Director of the ballet faculty at The Dance Depot in Collegeville, PA. Ms. Brown received her certification in the American Ballet Theatre (ABT®) National Training Curriculum and she recently taught at the Harlem School of the Arts in New York City, Bryn Mawr College, Penn State University and the Joffrey Jazz and Contemporary Program . Recently, she founded the En Pointe Plus Refining Institute offering semi-private coaching sessions for dancers utilizing new computerized motion analysis technology.
She received a Pioneer Award at the 2006 Madame C.J. Walker Business and Community Recognition Awards Luncheon hosted by the Oakland Bay Area Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, highlighting her two-year membership in that organization.
Among the most enduring acknowledgements of her artistic impact in the dance world, accolades include but are not limited to a 2003 Mozart to Motown Arts Pioneer Award and a 2002 ABC-TV Local Hero Award. In 2001, City Flight Magazine named Brown one of the Bay Area’s Ten Most Influential African-Americans, and The New York Times named her performance in Agnes DeMille’s “Fall River Legend” one of 1984’s Ten Best Performances.
An arts advocate and administrator of for-profit and non-profit organizations over the past 22 years, Brown served six years as a board member for Dance USA, the Smoke, Lilies and Jade Arts Initiative in Philadelphia, PA and as an advisory board member for Contemporary Ballet Theatre in Bronx, NY.
Karen accepted the position as Guest Artistic Director of Ballet Wichita in August 2017.