Antoinette M. Coward-Gilmore

Founder, CEO & Artistic Director

Antoinette M. Coward-Gilmoreis the Founder, CEO and Artistic Director of Danse4Nia, Philadelphia’s premiere arts organization that is the home to professional project-based dance company Phoenix Danse, youth dance company Nia-Next and arts education/ performing arts training program Danse4Nia Conservatory.

A native Philadelphian, Coward-Gilmore began her dance training in 1985 at The New Freedom Theatre founded by John E. Allen Jr. and Robert E. Leslie Sr. under the dance direction of Patricia Scott Hobbs and later, continued her studies at the Franklin Learning Center under Master Lester Horton Technique Teacher, the late Faye B. Snow.

Coward-Gilmore continued to hone her skills at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School of the Arts and in the training program of the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO.) She later earned a BFA in Dance from the University of the Arts and an MA in Dance Education and Performance from the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. Both institutions graduating with high honors and appearing on the Dean’s List.

As a dancer who was the last generation of LEJA Dance Theatre in Philadelphia and briefly a member of Philadanco II, Coward-Gilmore was a founding company member of Philadelphia’s Eleone Dance Theatre before moving to New York to dance with the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre Company touring nationally and internationally. In addition, Coward-Gilmore danced with the Rod Rodgers Dance Company,guest appeared in Melissa Vaughan’s “Shaka Zulu” and “The Leopard’s Tale” production with Ballethnic Dance Company in Atlanta, GA.

Coward-Gilmore is the original dancer/ choreographer for Mo Beasley’s “Love Suites” and “Urban Erotica” playing in legendary theaters and clubs like The Cutting Room, Don’t Tell Mama, Joe’s Pub, and the Black Box Theaters of Aaron Davis Hall and New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Coward-Gilmore additional theatre and film credits include Freedom Repertory Theatre’s Black Nativity, Purlie, Cooley High and Lazarus Unstoned where she was hired as a featured dancer, dance captain, and rehearsal assistant, as well as featured talent in several independent films about breast cancer, drug abuse and extra work on the film National Treasure.

Coward-Gilmore is a seasoned choreographer who has choreographed for The Philadelphia Theatre Company, Camden Repertory Theatre, recording artist Kashiash, Prince Music Theatre’s Rainbow Company/ Youth Arts In Action and countless youth, dance and arts programs.

Coward-Gilmore is a certified New York State Dance Educator and a seasoned teaching artist having taught at Harlem School of the Arts, Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, Norfolk State University, University of the Arts, Coppin State University, Grambling State University, Temple University and currently teaching artist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and adjunct dance faculty at Drexel University since 2010.

Notably, she is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Actor’s Equity Association,
Dance Scholars Association, the International Association of Blacks In Dance, Collegium of African Dance On The Diaspora, Women of Color in the Arts, Dance Studies Association and she serves as chair for the Social Justice Committee of the Pennsylvania Dance Educators Organization (PaDEO).

A former grant panelist for the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Fund and the Philadelphia Arts and Education Partnership, Coward-Gilmore was honored as one of Philadelphia’s Leading Women/ Movers & Shakers in the Arts in 2010, recognized as an outstanding artist by the Pennsylvania Pan Hellenic Council in 2018, recently awarded the Community Award by the Women of Color of the University of Pennsylvania and won runner up in the 2021 WURD Radio “Level Up” Contest for Women Entrepreneurs. 

Coward-Gilmore serves on the Board of Directors of Danse4Nia and Trash to Treasures founded by Terrill Haigler aka YaFavTrashman.