A "force of nature" choreographer's joyous examination of African American identity
A dynamic dancemaker whose work is seen everywhere from blockbuster TV to Broadway to the concert stage, Camille Brown brings to the Hop an intimate and evocative work that explores African American identity using rhythm and movement, ink. The show, being performed on Thursday and Friday, April 4 and 5, in The Moore Theater, will feature Brown and six virtuosic and highly individual dancers of Camille A. Brown & Dancers company. This is addition to a four-member, percussion-rich onstage ensemble.
The past few years have been huge for Brown, with her choreography featured in an adored, long-running 2017 Broadway revival of Once on This Island and NBC’s 2018 Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. Wrote Playbill of the NBC broadcast: “This is how you encompass a space! ... Brown conceived a vocabulary for each number that spoke one language for the show. The fact that she managed to meld individual movements within her big picture for a cast this size with such mastery, grace, and and wild abandon speaks to her command of choreography.”
You can see Brown's diverse and expressive show choreography below in the opening of Jesus Christ Superstar and "We Dance" from Once on This Island:
Meanwhile, Brown has also continued to create works for the concert stage, including with her own company. The third work in a trilogy examining African American identity, ink follows her 2012 Mr. TOL E. RAncE and 2015 BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play. Created in collaboration with the dancers and music director Allison Miller, ink presents a journey into archetypal moments in black culture through a series of solos and duets that call out to both ancient African roots and contemporary life. Accompanied by piano, violin and multiple drummers playing an original score fusing African rhythms, jazz, hip hop and more, the dancers explore themes like romantic love, male friendship and abundant female physicality. The work makes a beautiful study of personal and sometimes secretive gestures and rituals.
Wrote the Washington Post, “Camille A. Brown works like a fine jeweler on her choreography. She crafts small-scale, detailed pieces that address subtle emotions and the overlooked but meaningful events of daily life, especially those deeply seated in the African American experience.” Wrote DC Metro Theater Arts, “An entire history of a people is written indelibly on the bodies of her six dancers as well as her own. Their gestures, their postures, their interactions speak from the depths of centuries of lives lived with both vivid creativity and warmth and with the remnants of oppression encroaching [on] a rich and elastic community.”
In addition to the performances, there will be several other chances to meet and learn from Brown and her dancers. On Tuesday, April 2, her dancers will lead an intermediate-level dance master class in Straus Dance Studio of Dartmouth’s Berry Sports Complex. On Thursday, April 4, the public is invited to socialize with the company post-show in the Top of the Hop. On Thursday and Friday, April 5, there will be post-show discussions with the artists, in The Moore Theater.