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Celebrating African-American Culture at Diana Wortham Theatre

Celebrating African-American Culture at Diana Wortham Theatre

Black Girl Linguistic Play with Fana Fraser and Beatrice Capote. Photo by Christopher Duggan

Camille A. Brown and Dancers will perform at Diana Wortham Theatre (DWT) on Thursday, February 16 and Friday, February 17, at 8 p.m. Brown and her troupe are nationally acclaimed, with an innovative repertory that includes original musical compositions, choreography and dialogue.

“Diana Wortham Theatre is committed to bringing the best to dance lovers in our community, paying close attention to the newest and hottest choreographers,” says Rae Geoffrey, associate director of DWT. “Camille A. Brown and Dancers is one of those companies.”

The program includes a dance theatre trilogy about culture, race and identity that begins with an excerpt from Mr. TOL E. RAncE, a piece that celebrates African- American humor, examines ‘the mask’ of survival and the ‘double consciousness’ (W.E.B. DuBois) of the black performer throughout history and the stereotypical roles dominating current popular black culture. Next, an excerpt from BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play celebrates the unspoken rhythm and language of black girls through contemporary and ancestral hand-clapping games, social dances and Double Dutch. The final installation, “ink,” examines hip-hop as a social and cultural phenomenon and draws on historic and contemporary rhythms, rituals and gestural vocabulary of the African diaspora, and the comic superhero trope prevalent in American folklore. The evening will end with New Second Line, a celebration of the spirit and culture of the people of New Orleans.

Brown is a four-time Princess Grace Award winner, 2016 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient, a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, and a 2016 Bessie nominee for Outstanding Production. “Her recent awards have skyrocketed her to the forefront of the dance world,” says Geoffrey. “And she saturates her work with a strong social consciousness which gives depth and power to her performances.”

A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Brown utilizes her background as a clarinetist to incorporate musical composition in storytelling through the lens of a modern black female perspective. She leads her dancers through stories that connect history with contemporary culture, the versatility of which is demonstrated in works that range from lighthearted, to spiritually based, to politically charged with comedic flare, to personal.

In addition to performing, Brown and her troupe strive to instill cultural curiosity and introspection by providing outreach activities to students, young adults, and incarcerated women across the country. In 2014, Brown founded two initiatives: The Gathering, an annual open forum for intergenerational black female artists to advocate for greater cultural equity and acknowledgement in the dance world, and Black Girl Spectrum, a multi-faceted community engagement initiative that seeks to amplify the cultural and creative empowerment of black girls and women through dance, dialogue and popular education tools.

Diana Wortham Theatre is at 2 South Pack Square, in Asheville. Camille A. Brown and Dancers tickets are $42 for adults, $37 for students and $20 for children. Student rush day-of-show tickets are $10 with valid I.D. Purchase at dwtheatre.com or by calling 828.257.4530.

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