A Journey through Juba and Other Social Dances


Camille A. Brown and E. Moncell Durden, in collaboration with an esteemed roster of dancers, musicians, and scholars, create a rare opportunity to explore African American social dances, from authentic jazz to hip-hop. This program began at Jacob’s Pillow in July 2015. It was the Social dance: Jazz to Hip Hop​ ​program of The Jacob’s Pillow School.

Fluency on the dance floor includes learning the aesthetic values and political histories embedded in the social dances. We will examine the multiple influences and identities that remain embodied in dances of today. The continuum of African American social dance will be further explored through readings, film screenings, and discussions.

Moncell DurdenE. Moncell Durden is a dancer, ethnographer, choreographer, educator, documentarian, program developer, practitioner, author, and lecturer. Specializing in the pedagogical practices of African American social dance formations from the late 1800s to present day hip-hop, Durden is well respected nationally and internationally in both hip-hop and academic communities. Durden has danced, toured, and choreographed as a member of Mop Top Music & Movement, a pioneering hip-hop company based in Brooklyn, and Rennie Harris Puremovement, a hip-hop dance-theater company. Durden teaches at the Yale School of Drama, Wesleyan University, and Bennington College. An active member of National Dance Education Organization, Congress on Research in Dance, Society of Dance History Scholars, and International Dance Council CID, Durden has presented papers on the continuum of authentic jazz dance in hip-hop and is a contributing author to the newly published book Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches. Moncell is Assistant professor at the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance University of Southern California

Photo by Christopher Duggan
A Journey through Juba and Other Social Dances

Adesola OsakalumiAdesola Osakalumi, an original Broadway cast member in the Tony Award-winning musical FELA!, starred as the lead in both European and U.S. tours. He was cast in the Broadway revival of Equus and the Powerhouse Theater’s Workshop of In Your Arms (Director/Choreographer Christopher Gattelli). Film credits include Sex and the City 2, The Accidental Husband, Idlewild, and Crazy Beats Strong, a Sundance Film Festival featured film. He was also cast in The Sundance Theater Lab’s production of Ngwino Ubeho.
Osakalumi directed and co-choreographed the Off-Broadway hit Jam on the Groove, which received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Choreography. Film Choreography includes School of Rock and Marci X. His stage work includes Centrifugal Force (Lincoln Center Out of Doors), Eyewitness Blues (New York Theatre Workshop), and Hip Hop Wonderland (Bill Irwin at The New Victory Theatre). He has also choreographed commercials for PBS Kids, Old Navy, Advil, and Levi 501 Jeans. Osakalumi is a New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award winner and National Endowment for the Arts Grant recipient.

Francine E. OttFrancine E. Ott, a native of New Orleans, received her B.F.A. in Dance from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and studied at many dance intensives, including the American Dance Festival and Jacob’s Pillow. She has worked and danced with Camille A. Brown and Dancers, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company, Brian Green, and Tony Kundu, along with others. She is a dance instructor and her choreography has been showcased at SummerStage, BAM: Black Brooklyn Renaissance, and E-Moves, to name a few. Ott has been featured in the July 2011 issue of Dance Magazine article, “When Words Hurt,” and the February 2011 issue of SHAPE Magazine in “Confidence Queens.” Ott is a studio assistant and teacher at Cumbe Dance Center, rehearsal director for Camille A. Brown and Dancers, teaching artist for Art to Freedom, and a Masters of Counseling student. She also directs her own company Ott/The Walk

Photo by Christopher Duggan
Social Dances Dialogue

What they are saying about Social Dances!

“Thanks to Camille A. Brown and Moncell IllKozby Durden we have danced from the Beauty and Strength of knowing both our Ancestors and our Culture these past two weeks, and in doing so, created Community. Thank you Atiba Morales, Adesola Osakalumi and Francine Ott for joining the circle. To you wonderful alums, stay intent and dance your meaning with love and compassion.”
~ J.R. Glover, Director of Education at The School of Jacob’s Pillow

“In the last 14 days I’ve danced for approximately 90 hours. Locking, popping, housing, vernacular jazz, juba, and New Orleans bounce. I can’t walk without limping and muscles are throbbing that I didn’t even know existed. Regardless of physical pain, I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this good. I’ve learned more about myself as a person and dancer than I have in the last 22 years of living…Life is so good.”
~ Lani Anderson

“I have been a sponge, soaking up the information and receiving the many tools that we have been provided thus far. I am extremely blessed and thankful to be in such an organic place full of driven dancers with an amazing support system (faculty and staff) that assist our development.”
~ Jared Smith

Photo by Christopher Duggan
A Journey through Juba and Other Social Dances

“Learning “Black Girl: Linguistic Play” here at Jacob’s Pillow Dancereminds me of African based movement. The rhythm and grounded footwork feels like we’re waking up the ancestors. It also reminds me my childhood- the years playing double Dutch and creating different rhythms and tricks that fit in the rhythm of the rope turning.”
~ Makeesha Hill

“Social dance affects culture and society. I desire to exist fully in the moment and be relentless when it comes to moving in my own unique way.”
~ Shamar Watt

“I am filled with so many emotions. I have gained so much respect for the dance style I love social dance. I have gained so much confidence in my dancing and just gain confidence in myself that I never had.”
~ Eric Moncell Durden Jr​

“Our mentors have prepared us, deepening our perspectives for dance and where it is going. I like learning about the past, because without it we have no future.”
~ Eldrin Shorts

Photos by Christopher Duggan

A Journey through Juba and Other Social DancesA Journey through Juba and Other Social Dances


Camille A. Brown


Camille A. Brown and Dancers Repertory


Camille A. Brown Theater Choreography


Engagement with Camille A. Brown