The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company premiere of Camille A. Brown’s City Of Rain took place on Tuesday, December 17. The ensemble work for ten dancers was originally choreographed in 2010 for her own company Camille A. Brown & Dancers. This rendering is more a reimagining than a reconstruction; and Brown takes this opportunity to retool the work to reflect her present esthetic. Unlike her earlier two offerings for the Ailey repertoire, The Evolution of a Secured Feminine (2007, AAADT company premiere 2010), The Groove To Nobody’s Business (2007) and her 2014 Bessie Award winning (Outstanding Production) Mr. TOL. E. RAncE, this revived work is less storyline driven dance theatre and more a movement dominated abstract narrative.
City of Rain is dedicated to Greg “Blyes” Boomer, Brown’s friend who died from a debilitating illness. Boomer kept the details of his situation private, and as he became more incapacitated friends were unable to effectively intercede on his behalf. Choreographer Brown has approached the work from a place of reflection, reverence and respect creating a fitting dance elegy for Boomer.
Brown’s signature style has become as recognizable and individual as a visual artist’s brushstrokes. City of Rain Brown emphasizes her keen and developed understanding of spatial design and strong choreographic form. The work is a barometer to Brown’s growth as a dance maker, storyteller and activists.
From the opening Brown’s subtle use of spatial design came to the forefront. Dancers Jeroboam Bozeman, Patrick Coker, Solomon Dumas and Yannick LeBrun flacked each other center stage in a spatially balanced four cornered circle. Coker broke the harmonious stillness with a solo filled with an uneasy sense of foreboding, which was amplified in the proceeding solo by Dumas.
Brown divided the quartet into two groups. Each coupling (one downstage the other upstage) moved with a slightly different time signature and punctuation. The dichotomy introduced one of her signature movement elements; the use of polyrhythms based on principles prevalent in sub-Saharan African music and dance. German dance pioneer Mary Wigmanexplored this device in the early part of the 20th century.
Her diasporic use of multiple rhythmic movement patterns simultaneously has become a Brown trademarks. When six female dancers (Belen Indhira Pereyra, Jacquelin Harris, Courtney Celeste Spears, Jacqueline Green, Jessica Amber Picknett, and Danica Paulos) entered a harmonious chorus of movement engulfed the stage in a rich polyrhythmic visual tapestry. Her ability to incorporate syncopated rhythms through foot stomps and clapping intensified the polyrhythmic experience.
In City Of Rain she fearlessly attacked Two Way Dream, composer Jonathan Melville Pratt’s original melodic music score. Here Brown was able to create her own music/movement addendum- a dance driven visual “choreo-chorus”. Unison brought the work to a collective conclusion. Brown manipulated the use of level throughout; which helped to delineate the work’s visual focal point.
Here, the group danced in a slightly crouched position as a single dancer would rise up and move against the tide; then disappear back into the linear river of movement, while another artist emerged to take her place. Finally, the entire group capitulated to the unison and as the lights and sound faded the dancers began to melt into the floors. It was as if they had reached the final level of dealing with death… acceptance.
Reimaging a former work doesn’t always result in recreating the original emotional intent and public reaction. In City Of Rain Brown was able to use her present day prospective to reach forward to revisit the past. The one consideration that might enhanced the audience’s experience would be the addition of program notes.
This is the last week to see the New York City Center fall season of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. There are two more opportunities to see Camille A. Brown’s City Of Rain, Wednesday, January 1 at 7:30pm and Sunday, January 5 at 3pm. For tickets and schedule information visit ailey.org.
A danseur noble is a male dancer who projects great nobility of character. A dancer who performs at the highest theatrical level combining exceptional grace, technique and strength. In a prior review I referred to Ailey principal dancer Yannick LeBrun as a danseur noble. It was not one performance or one season that brought me to that conclusion, but a career collective.Continue reading
Fall is finally here! In New York that means cool mornings, sweater weather afternoons, jacket evenings and the arts. We have street art in Da Bronx, 90’s R&B in Harlem and Dance honors its own in the Village. Here are a few of the many events happening in the city that never sleeps, guaranteed to keep you Out and About.Continue reading
Sunny days just makes New Yorkers even more festive. We have a dance tribute in Queens, a film on an Opera icon and Jumping Jack Flash in New Jersey. Here are a few of the many events happening in the city that never sleeps, guaranteed to keep you Out and About.Continue reading
Camille A. Brown and Dancers presented ink, February 5 through February 10,2019 at the Joyce Theater. The company of seven (Beatrice Capote, Timothy Edwards, Catherine Foster, Juel D. Lane, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, Maleek Washington and Brown) moved courageously with a spartan attack and focus intent. The extremely audience friendly 70 minute one-act abstract narrative dance theatre work is the third and final installment of her dance/theatre trilogy about identity; which includes Mr. TOL E. Rance (2012) and BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play (2015).Continue reading
Fall is in full swing and is quickly ushering in the holiday arts season. This week we honor dance in Brooklyn, celebrate Jazz on Staten Island, and watch Denzel Washington save a western town. Here are a few of the many events taking place in the city that never sleeps guaranteed to get you Out and About.Continue reading
Camille A. Brown, choreographer, who has received critic acclaim for her social commentary dance works, has been named a TED2015 fellow. Brown is among 21 other fellows who were selected and range from biologists, journalists, photographers, social entrepreneurs, technology innovators, a chef, policy analyst, opera singer, astrophysicist, and paleontologist. Her most recent work Black Girl: Linguistic Play explores the social interact of black girls and women. Continue reading
The 31st New York Dance and Performance Awards, affectionately known as The Bessies, will be held on Monday, October 19, at 7:30pm, at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City . Jock Soto (former New York City Ballet principal) and performance artist and playwright Carmelita Tropicana will host the event. This is the fifth year The Bessies will be held at the historic Harlem landmark Theater.
This year The Bessies have nominated over thirty-five artists in seven catagories, which include: Outstanding Production, Outstanding Music Composition/Sound design, Outstanding Revival, Outstanding Performer, Outstanding Emerging Choreographer, Outstanding Visual Design, and the 2015 Juried Bessie Award. There will also be special presentations to Steve Paxton, recipient of the 2015 Bessie for Lifetime Achievement in Dance; and Movement Research, for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance. The ceremony will feature performances by Bessie Award-winning artists Camille A. Brown, Lisa Nelson, and Storyboard P, recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award.
Here is an opportunity to meet five nominated artists:
Meet The Artists
David Neumann/advanced beginner group– Outstanding Production for I Understand Everything Better.
David Neumann has been a featured dancer in the works of Susan Marshall, Jane Comfort, Sally Silvers, Irene Hultman, Cathy Weiss, Big Dance Theater, and the late club legend Willi Ninja. As Artistic Director of advanced beginner group, Neumann’s work has been presented in New York at PS 122, New York Live Arts, Central Park SummerStage (where he collaborated with John Giorno), Celebrate Brooklyn, Symphony Space (where he collaborated with Laurie Anderson), The Whitney, The Kitchen and BRIC Arts. His work has also been presented at the Walker Art Center and MASS MoCA. He’s currently a professor of Theater at Sarah Lawrence College.
Lauren Grant– Outstanding Performer for her overall body of work with Mark Morris.
Grant has danced with MMDG since 1996. Performing leading roles in The Hard Nut and Mozart Dances, Grant has appeared in over 50 of Mark Morris’ works. She is on the faculty at The School at the Mark Morris Dance Center, leads master classes around the globe, sets Mr. Morris’ work at universities, and frequently leads classes for the company. Grant has been featured in Time Out New York, Dance Magazine, the book Meet the Dancers, appeared in PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center and ITV’s The South Bank Show and was a subject for the photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Storyboard P– Emerging Choreographer (Winner)
Storyboard P has fused various styles of Hip-Hop, (the latest American born art form) with elements of modern and jazz dance, cinematography and thematic choreographic form to create new dance narrative and abstract movement based works. His work embodies the collaborative ethos enlisting artists, fashion designers, musicians, DJs, filmmakers and street performers. Storyboard P’s art is reminiscent of another American art form- Jazz. Both were inspired by popular urban trends; but then manipulated codified techniques and experimented through improvisation to move in new directions. This 24 year-old phenom’s recent collaborations include fashion designer Marc Jacobs, recording artists Jay Z and Miguel, documentary filmmaker Frendy Lemorin, and renowned photographer Marc Baptiste. He calls this artistic movement amalgam Mutant; and in his own words, “Really my vision is just to speak, just to move, it’s just the aesthetic of it.”
600 Highwaymen– Outstanding Performance for Employee Of The Year
600 Highwaymen is a Brooklyn-based theater company under the artistic direction of Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone. In Employee Of The Year Nominee five young girls perform one woman’s journey, from beginning to end. Intimate and arresting, Employee of the Year asks what it is to discover your own path and find your own way in life.
Tei Blow– Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design for I Understand Everything Better
Tei Blow is a performer and media designer born in Japan, raised in the United States, and based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Tei’s work incorporates photography and video with a focus on found media artifacts. He has performed and designed for The Laboratory of Dmity Krymov, Mihail Baryshnikov, Jodi Melnick, Ann Liv Young, Big Dance Theater and David Neumann. “As a designer and composer, I create intentionally derivative works from original and existing recorded material. Sounds are transformed through their contextual placement in space and time. My work illuminates the ties between design and subject by reframing familiar, found and original sounds; asking the viewrs to draw sensorial connections between the present moment and their own memories.”
Tickets for the 2015 Bessie Awards start at $10 and can be purchased in person at the Apollo Theater box office; by phone through Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000; or online at Ticketmaster.com. The Apollo Theater is located at 253 West 125th Street , New York , NY 10027.
Camille A. Brown & Dancers opened the 2015 fall Joyce Theater season on Tuesday, September 22 with BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play. Inspired by Kyra D. Gaunt’s book, The Games Black Girls Play Choreographer/director Brown describes the one-act evening’s length, “BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play celebrates the unspoken rhythm and language that Black girls have through Double Dutch, social dances, and hand clapping games that are contemporary and ancestral.” The six member all female cast accomplished Brown’s vision through of series of three duets each exploring different aspects of life and society.Continue reading
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MONDAY MEDITATIONS WITH KARINE PLANTADITMONDAY MEDITATIONS WITH KARINE PLANTADITTime: 12:00 am - 12:30 pm Monday Meditations will take over the SummerStage Instagram channel live every Monday at 12:00PM EST for a 30 minute workshop focused on keeping your mind and body happy, healthy and active with guest host Karine Plantadit, former Alvin Ailey and Broadway Tony Award nominated dancer (Come Fly Away, The Lion King), instructor, choreographer, certified yoga teacher and life coach.
September 29, 2020
@CookingWithKu- Vegan Dining With Akua Noni Parker@CookingWithKu- Vegan Dining With Akua Noni ParkerTime: 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Learn how to prepare healthy Vegan meals with Ailey principal dancer Akua Noni Parker. Akua invites us into her kitchen every week on Tuesday at 5pm. Ingredients are list prior so we can all enjoy CookingWithKu.
October 1, 2020
Dance Of The Village Elders- Zoom with WalterDance Of The Village Elders- Zoom with WalterTime: 11:00 am The Dance of the Village Elders are back ! This time we exercise, dance and just have fun through the zoom platform