For an in-demand choreographer, Camille A. Brown spends an unusual amount of her time listening and responding to what audiences have to say. Often, what she hears is upsetting. Sometimes the most disturbing comments prove the most useful.
Since 2012, performances by her dance company have incorporated a post-show conversation among viewers and the cast — presented not in the usual way, as an extra, but as an integral part of the work. Earlier this month, Ms. Brown recalled an exchange from one of those conversations:
“This older white man decided to start talking about how the black family basically doesn’t exist,” she said. “He went on and on about single-parent homes. I pointed out how most members of my company” — all African-American, including Ms. Brown — “came from two-parent homes. I told him, ‘You have a narrative in your mind, but I’m showing you another narrative.’