CM: Talk to me a little bit about how being a dancer influences how you work as an artistic director.
CAB: Because I am a dancer as well, I am definitely in tune with how the body is taking in the material. I know what happens when you are pushed past your limit, and I really try to make sure I don’t overwork my dancers. The youngest dancer in my company is 30, and at 39 I’m the oldest, so that’s also something to consider.
Camille A. Brown grew up self-conscious of her voice.
Rattled by the timbre of her own sound, worried that it distracted others from the content of what she said, Brown spoke aloud less and less—but she always had something to say. “Movement was always a very safe space for me,” she says. “It was the vehicle that helped me express how I was feeling.”
However, she was not surprised. Brown has spent much of her career using movement and music to dispel myths about African-Americans. Through her production “Black Girl: Linguistic Play,” she uses childhood games like double dutch and stepping to share a black girl’s journey from childhood through matury to sisterhood.
If you love musicals, you may have caught Camille A. Brown’s choreography in last year’s Tony Award-winning production of “Once On This Island” or on television in “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.” If you prefer Broadway plays, you might have seen her name in the playbill for “Choir Boy,” where her dance sequences helped bring the central choral music to life. Or you might have read that she’s choreographing the new Broadway-bound take on “Magic Mike,” which starts performances in Boston this fall. But long before she lent her inventive moves to theater, Camille A. Brown was a fixture of the modern dance scene.
Camille A. Brown has made a name for herself as a star choreographer in the dance world, receiving accolades notably but not limited to the Princess Grace Award, TED Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, USA Jay Franke & David Herro Fellowship and a Bessie Award. She’s graced the covers of dance magazines and performed at multiple TED conferences, choreographed for Broadway and television with John Legend’s Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC. But to speak to Brown, you’d never know it. It’s clear that the work itself is the prize she values most, as the soft-spoken Brown lights up with delight when discussing past and future projects.
After the success of the Tony-winning revival of Once On This Island, Camille A. Brown is back on Broadway as choreographer of Tarell Alvin McCraney's acclaimed new play Choir Boy.
The Dram Desk, OCC, and Chita Rivera Award nominee is having a moment right now. You may have recently seen her choreography on TV's Jesus Christ Superstar Live! or John Legend's NBC New Year's Eve performance or onstage in This Ain't No Disco, Bella, The Wiz at The Muny, or ink—the final installment of Brown’s dance trilogy about identity, which makes its NYC debut at The Joyce Theatre from February 5-10.
YoungArts Foundations’ 2019 Backyard Ball will announce Camille A. Brown as this year’s Arison Alumni Award winner for her contributions to the arts. Her choreographed performances center around perceptions and realities among different cultures. As a prolific African American female choreographer, her work strives to reclaim the cultural narrative of the African American identity. Brown gave us insight into what self-motivation techniques helped forward her career and passion—one being the motto shepasses along to her students during her teaching. Movement is her channel for giving back as she has provided outreach activities to students, young adults, and incarcerated women and men across the country.
Camille A. Brown is a rising dance-world icon. Use of gesture and theatricality, amalgamation of various stylistic influences, and a unique kind of virtuosity makes her work something of which to take true note. As a black woman, who also calls upon African-American cultural heritage and sociopolitical issues in her work, she exemplifies the kinds of artists the field could nurture and exhibit more of with greater efforts at representation and diversity. Brown is reclaiming the cultural narrative of African-American identity, with bold work that taps into both ancestral stories and contemporary culture to capture a range of deeply personal experiences.
Dancer and choreographer CAMILLE A. BROWN is everywhere these days. On Broadway with Once on This Island. At the Kennedy Center with ink, a dance work in a trilogy about identity. On NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concertbroadcast. And as she travels in and out of rehearsal halls and between cities, Brown and members of her eponymous dance company (Camille A. Brown & Dancers) lead community engagement activities bringing about social change at schools and community centers. No wonder the Ford Foundation awarded her its Art of Change Fellowship for 2017-18.
Dallas — 2018 has been quite a year for Camille A. Brown whose powerful combination of storytelling and modern, African and hip-hop movements has been capturing audiences from every angle, including concert dance, on and off-Broadway, and television. Most recently, her work has been seen on NBC with the Emmy-nominated special, Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE, and also on Broadway with the 2018 Tony award-winning production, Once On This Island.