With a brilliant combination of contemporary and social dance, gesture, and live music, groundbreaking choreographer Camille A. Brown’s dance company uses its gutsy moves and high theatricality to connect ancestral stories with contemporary culture.
Camille A. Brown & Dancers will appear at the Moss Arts Center on Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. The performance will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.
A prolific black female choreographer reclaiming the cultural narrative of African American identity, Brown’s bold work captures a range of deeply personal experiences. Recognized for an introspective approach to cultural themes through visceral movement and socio-political dialogues, her work inspires conversations about race, culture, and identity.
The evening’s program offers highlights from Brown’s critically acclaimed African American identity trilogy including the Bessie Award-winning “Mr. TOL E. RAncE,” “BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play,” and “ink.”
Through comedy, live original music, animation, theatre and retrospective dance vocabulary, “Mr. TOL E. RAncE” speaks to the issue of tolerance, blending and contrasting the contemporary with the historic in a timely dialogue about the past, present and future.
“BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play” reveals the complexity of carving out a self-defined identity as a black female in urban American culture. In a society where black women are often only portrayed in terms of their strength, resiliency or trauma, this work challenges these narratives by representing a nuanced spectrum of black womanhood in a racially- and politically-charged world.
“ink” is Brown’s newest work, drawing on the historic and contemporary rhythms, rituals and gestural vocabulary of the African diaspora. The work reclaims African American narratives by showcasing its authenticity and examines the culture of black life that is often appropriated, rewritten, or silenced. The choreography is an amalgamation of African American social dance, African, tap, jazz, modern and hip-hop styles, accompanied by a live band that elides elements of blues, hip-hop, jazz and swing.
The company will also perform “New Second Line,” which is inspired by the events of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The piece is a celebration of the spirit and culture of the people of New Orleans. In New Orleans, second line parades are traditional brass band parades for weddings, social events, and — most notably — funerals. The people who follow the parade dancing with high energy and spirit are known as the “second line.”
Brown is a celebrated choreographer of Broadway’s “Once on This Island” and NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” This year, she earned her first Tony nomination for best choreography for “Choir Boy,” making her the first black woman to be nominated in this category in more than 20 years.
Brown is a Ford Foundation Art of Change fellow, four-time Princess Grace Award winner, Guggenheim fellow, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient, TED fellow, and Doris Duke Artist Award recipient. Her work has been commissioned by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Broadway theatres and other prominent institutions.
Founded in 2006, Camille A. Brown & Dancers (CABD) tours nationally and internationally, performing in more than 65 cities and dozens of states at leading festivals and venues, reaching 20,000 people annually.
During their visit to Blacksburg, members of Camille A. Brown & Dancers will lead a workshop in the theatre arts class, Introduction to Applied Collaborative Techniques. Brown will participate in an informal public dialogue at the Black Cultural Center for an event presented in partnership with the Community Cultural Centers, Women’s Center at Virginia Tech, Ujima living-learning program and Sankofa: The Black Homecoming.
Tickets are $20-45 for general public and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center’s box office, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.
While Virginia Tech students can always attend any Moss Arts Center performance for only $10, the center also offers free last-minute rush tickets for students who sign up for text notifications. To receive these notifications, text “arts” to 31996. Availability of rush tickets varies by performance and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last in the box office. Virginia Tech ID will be required for admission.
Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.