Joe’s Movement Emporium

Sustaining Organizational Member
Member since February 21, 2014



Joe’s Movement Emporium promotes practice and preservation of world performance traditions with an emphasis on dance and movement.  Through programs in education, production and artist services, Joe’s increases community access to creative experiences and creates local economic opportunities. Based in Mount Rainier, Maryland in the Prince George’s Gateway Arts District since 1995, Joe’s serves more than 40,000 visitors annually and is home to 25 professional performance groups.


In 1992, World Arts Focus was founded by Brooke Kidd to teach and conduct community educational programs, present performances, and pool resources among artists. Three years later, she and local performer-choreographer Ajax Joe Drayton opened a dance and community arts center in a vacant storefront in the small city of Mount Rainier in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

They named the center Joe’s Movement Emporium.  Why? Because “emporium” means a market of diverse wares and services, “movement” implies yoga, tumbling, and more, in addition to dance; and “Joe’s” creates a personal inclusion – and a “Fifties diner flair”.  We’re often asked, “Who is Joe?” We respond, “Everybody is a Joe, so everybody can dance.”

Joe’s expanded to occupy three storefronts on 34th Street from 1997 to 2006 and build broad programs in education, production and artist services.  It became a strong regional organization conducting community engagement and advocating for arts as a catalyst for economic development of disinvested communities.  Joe’s staff and board have served and continue to participate in strategic efforts of an arts-based strategy of redevelopment, involved in efforts such as the creation of the Gateway Arts District and incubating organizations like Gateway Community Development Corporation and the International Capoeira Angola Foundation, among others.

In 2007, Joe’s moved into a permanent new home around the corner after a $3.2 million capital project.  In the former Direct Mail Warehouse, a 20,000 sf facility provided three large studios, a generous lobby and theater, a dedicated arts education center, and five individually leased artist studios.  A collective of over 20 professional artist groups rent space at Joe’s to create new work and teach.  The programs have grown to provide comprehensive youth development services with early-child education in the artsafter school andsummer intensive arts learning and a workforce development program in theater tech for high school seniors.  Year-round adult movement education allows all bodies to find wellness and balance. Joe’s is utilized by many other nonprofit organizations to provide programs, meetings and special events. It’s a cultural hub visited by over 40,000 per year.