Tapping into both ancestral stories and contemporary culture, superstar choreographer Camille A. Brown has made a name for herself in the dance industry. Over the past two decades, Brown has received numerous accolades including the Princess Grace Award, a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award and Guggenheim Fellowship.
From dance to Broadway theater, Brown’s credits include the recent revival of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND and the live NBC TV special JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. Her work has also been commissioned by the Alvin Ailey American Theater.
In 2006, she founded the NYC based dance company, Camille A. Brown & Dancers (CABD). The group is a Bessie Award-winning company blending modern, hip-hop, African, ballet and tap dance. "The Bessie" is awarded annually for outstanding achievement by independent dance artists in New York City. The award recognizes exceptional work in choreography, performance, music composition and visual design.
Photo by Christopher Duggan
O-pa had the chance to catch up with Brown to ask a few questions about her dance process before she and her dance company take up residence in Omaha February 20-21.
“My direction is guided by their choice making. I look for dancers who are interested in character development and taking chances. I’m always challenging myself and want to be in a room with people who are willing to take the dive with me,” says Brown.
When asked about the difference between theater and CABD company work, Brown said the biggest difference is in the decision making.
“It's interesting because when you're walking into a theatre piece you have your book and you have the music; but for concert dance, I'm actually creating the book in a sense, so it's a little more tedious and more exploratory, in terms of the movement language for the show,” says Brown.
In addition, to hosting CABD, O-pa is excited to partner with the company on three community engagement initiatives. The first event is held in partnership with the Omaha Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. The Omaha Chapter of The Links consists of accomplished African American women dedicated to the community.
“Chapters of The Links, Incorporated partners with arts organization like Omaha Performing Arts to create and support opportunities for educating minority youth in the arts and supporting accomplished professional artists, like Camille A. Brown,” says Public Relations Chair of the Links, Terri Sanders.
Two hundred youth and young adults will discuss Brown’s choreography and the social topics her dances address. Sanders says it’s important for black females to meet artists like Brown. She is the first black female choreographer nominated for a Tony® Award in best choreography in more than two decades.
The second event is a free social dance community workshop led by two Camille A. Brown and Dancers company members. It’s open to the public and will be held on Thursday, February 20 from 6-7:30 P.M. The company members will teach participants social dances. This workshop will be held in the Scott Recital Hall at the Holland Performing Arts Center. If you want to attend the workshop, please register here
. The deadline to register is February 14.
Another great way O-pa seeks to engage the community is through free talk backs. After Camille A. Brown & Dancers perform at the Orpheum on Friday, February 21 the audience is invited to stay for a conversation with the dancers. The post show talk back will also be live streamed. You can watch it on the Omaha Performing Arts
Facebook page. Join us and get tickets for the performance here