Award-Winning Choreographer Camille A. Brown and Company Perform “BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play”
WHITE BIRD PRESENTS WEST COAST PREMIERE OF CAMILLE A. BROWN & DANCERS WITH POWERFUL “BLACK GIRL: LINGUISTIC PLAY,” A HUMOROUS AND POIGNANT DEPICTION OF YOUNG AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN CARVING OUT THEIR IDENTITIES IN A RACIALLY CHARGED WORLD.
CAMILLE BROWN FIRST OF THREE MAJOR DANCE ARTISTS WHITE BIRD IS BRINGING IN SEASON-LONG TRIBUTE TO GREAT AFRICAN AMERICAN CHOREOGRAPHERS.
“Arguably the best thing that has ever happened on The Joyce stage”
-Time Out New York
White Bird is excited to bring award-winning choreographer Camille A. Brown and her company Camille A. Brown & Dancers to Portland’s Newmark Theatre, with Brown’s acclaimed production BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play, October 13-15. Last presented by White Bird in its Uncaged Series in 2012, and recent recipient of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award this past June, Camille A. Brown creates emotionally charged dance, filtered through the lens of a modern black female perspective. According to Brown, “I am interested in that space between dance and theater where interdisciplinary work defies category and takes flight. I am interested in telling stories – historical and personally based – and am fascinated with tying history to my personal experiences and bringing those things to life.”
Camille A. Brown & Dancers is the first of three companies—also including Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group (Nov. 17-19 at Lincoln Hall) and Ronald K. Brown/Evidence (April 6-8, 2016, Newark Theatre)—that comprise White Bird’s special focus this season on Great African American Choreographers, combining performances with extensive community activities. White Bird is partnering with Portland writer and performer S. Renee Mitchell and dance teacher/performer Kemba Shannon to develop these community activities to be announced shortly. An extended moderated post-show discussion will take place after each of the Friday performances by each of the three companies.
Premiering last Fall 2015, 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 seeks to interrogate these narratives by representing a nuanced spectrum of black womanhood in a racially and politically charged world. Brown’s work has received critical and audience acclaim wherever it has been performed and has been nominated for the 2016 Bessie Award, awarding outstanding and groundbreaking work by dance artists based in New York City, to be presented October 18, 2016.
In her 60-minute work, Camille Brown combines an infectious and moving original music compositions, played live by pianist, Scott Patterson and electric bassist, Tracy Wormworth, with playful and lyrical dance movement that embraces the unspoken rhythm and landscape that Black girls have, including social dancing, double dutch, steppin’, tap, Juba, ring shout, and gesture. The cast of five powerful women, including Camille Brown, develop strong identities, from childhood innocence to girlhood awareness to maturity—always being shaped by their environments, the bonds of sisterhood, and society at large.
BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play ultimately shows the power of sisterhood and the fact that, again in Brown’s words, “as we mature, Black girls still play. It is remembering, conjuring, honoring, and healing. It’s a Black girl’s story through her gaze. This work is a gift to myself and Black girls everywhere”. During the performance, Brown’s cast assumes the identities of two young girls dancing the rhythms of double Dutch jump rope, teenagers horsing, older women, among other memorable characters. By creating a vocabulary that fuses African, Hip- Hop, Jazz, Modern, Tap, Ballet, Theater, original music compositions and African-American social dances, Camille Brown’s work often provides a platform to educate people about their origins while also exploring universal themes through movement.
Dance critic Eva Yaa Asantewaa states, “Brown layers in a kaleidoscope of movements that include — and go beyond — ballet and modern dance. It tells a story about how girls pass on skills to girls. You don’t learn double Dutch from your teachers or your parents, but you learn it from your girlfriends. And it’s about that kind of sharing and that trust and that passing along of information and wisdom and ability and excellence.”
Camille A. Brown is a prolific choreographer who has achieved multiple accolades and awards for her daring works. Informed by her music background as a clarinetist, she utilizes musical composition as storytelling and makes a personal claim on history through the lens of a modern Black female perspective. She leads her dancers through excavations of ancestral stories, both timeless and traditional, that illustrate stories which connect history with contemporary culture.
Brown is the recipient of the 2016 Princess Grace Statue Award, 2016 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, 2016 Guggenheim Fellow, 2015 USA Jay Franke & David Herro Fellow, 2015 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient, 2015 TED Fellow, 2014 Bessie Award winner (Mr. TOL E. RAncE “Outstanding Production”), Princess Grace Award recipient for Choreography (2006) and Works in Progress Residency (2013), two-time recipient of NEFA’s National Dance Project: Production Grant. She received The International Association of Blacks in Dance Founders Award (2013), the Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award (Wesleyan University), and the City College of New York Women & Culture Award (2012).
White Bird’s presentation of Camille A. Brown’s BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play is supported by WESTAF, the National Endowment for the Arts and Oregon Arts Commmision.
White Bird’s 19th season (2016-17) is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County and the Arts Education & Access Fund; Work for Art; The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Ronni Lacroute/WillaKenzie Estate, National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, Starseed Foundation, and WESTAF.