Camille A. Brown’s Latest Dance Challenge? To Have Fun.
By Gia Kourlas
The body doesn’t lie, and Camille A. Brown needed to know the truth about what hers was saying.
“The sound is nice, it’s very nice,” Shaune Johnson-Faust told her with soft-spoken approval.
Brown had asked Johnson-Faust, an early teacher, to look at a tap duet from her celebrated “Black Girl: Linguistic Play.” Johnson-Faust watched it with her eyes closed, to better grasp the rhythms the feet were tapping out, albeit in sneakers. Her words had an immediate effect. Brown’s shoulders softened. Her eyebrows relaxed. Tension melted throughout her alert form.
Johnson-Faust, who was an important influence on Brown, taught using drums. “The drums would play a rhythm and then we would have to mimic the rhythm,” Brown said in an interview earlier. “So I feel like a lot of my influence is based on how I was trained in tap: feeling the rhythm and just playing with all of that. We were young. I was, like, 11. I didn’t realize what she was giving us.”
Looking to her mentors and her teachers while examining the history of social dance is an important part of Brown’s process, which requires a sensitivity to the past along with theatrical and choreographic ingenuity. But this season, Brown, 42, is faced with a more personal challenge. She is restaging her acclaimed trilogy of dance works — “Mr. TOL E. RAncE,” “Black Girl” and “ink” — and will perform with her company, probably for the last time.
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