Our History

Afro One Dance

The Afro-One Dance, Drama and Drum Theatre had its origin as a dance class under the direction of Founder and Artistic Director Dr. Patricia Reid-Merritt of Willingboro, New Jersey. Reid-Merritt was trained in Philadelphia, Pa. at the Sydney King School of Dance under the direction of Karen Steptoe Warrington. Noted dance legends John Hines, John Jones and Danielle Perna also played a significant role in her dance education. In 1974, a group of parents witnessed the dance class performing at a local recital and requested that they perform at a local Black Arts Festival that sponsored by the Association of Negro Business and Professional Women.

The group of students then began to rehearse on a regular basis, and this organization soon evolved into the Afro-One Dance Company. During the fall of 1975, a group of interested parents organized a committee aimed at further developing Black arts in the community, specifically geared to providing support for the original Afro-One Dance Company. An Advisory Board was formed in 1980, and a Board of Directors in 1983. Composed of concerned professionals living in the State of New Jersey and the greater metropolitan area, the Board is currently emphasizing dance, drama and music in the African-American heritage. The Board is committed to maintaining a high-quality professional performing company is the southern New Jersey region. Long-range goals include the maintenance of a Black Arts Center to house the above art activities, as a vehicle for exposing the community to contributions made by artists of African ancestry.

In the past forty-six years, Afro-One has performed at schools, colleges and universities, businesses and corporations, conferences, Kwanzaa celebrations, weddings, rites of passage, local festivals and community events. Highlights of their performances include in concert presentations at Rutgers University, Essex College, Monmouth University, Stockton University, Rowan University, Ramapo University, Penn State, Burlington County College, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The Philadelphia Zoo, the African American Historical Site at Boston, University Museum of Pennsylvania, the College of New Jersey, the Conference on Black Families in Urban America, Bell Labs, the US Air Force at McGuire and the US Army at Fort Dix. Reid-Merritt has remained at the helm of the organization for the past forty-six years, training thousands of students and performing for tens of thousands of community members. The 2019-20 season marks the organization's FORTY- SIXTH (46th) ANNIVERSARY.