Saturday, January 28, 2012

Camille A. Brown at The Joyce

Camille A. Brown (Photo by Matt Karas)

If you think you've seen all Camille A. Brown has to offer, take a trip over to The Joyce Theater this weekend, and you will discover or rediscover:

  • City of Rain: I had never seen this ensemble piece, premiered in 2010. It's a good look at how Brown, popular for her character-driven dances, can work an abstract concept over space, flooding her stage with the physical turbulence of an octet of continuously winding, unfurling bodies. Mora-Amina Parker, an imposing performer, is particularly effective and impressive here.
  • The Evolution of A Secured Feminine: Sure you've seen this solo a million times, on and off Brown's body. But you haven't seen it the way Brown has reclaimed it in this season. Of course, it has her signature quirky timing and seamlessness, but she's dancing it even stronger these days, filling it out even more and owning it. A good thing getting better. Worth a new look.
  • Mr. TOL E. RAncE: Part 1: The program notes quote Langston Hughes' reference to humor as "unconscious therapy." Brown's performers genuinely dance the hell out of this one, which is ironic since it depicts Black minstrels dancing the hell out of stuff with smiles frozen on their faces and modern-day TV dance show contestants dancing the hell out of stuff, all while a brazen MC pours on the inflammatory racial stereotyping. Same shit, different day. I should also mention Isabela Dos Santos' animation in which, through a series of unfortunate events, a hapless guy loses one body part after another until he is, finally, only a head kicked away by a soccer player. So pretty caustic humor, if humor it is, and I can't say I find it terribly therapeutic. At first, I wasn't sure what, if anything, Brown wanted us to feel, if not horror. But Brown's concluding solo, set to a melancholy piano version of "What A Wonderful World," seemed to bring it all back to the unpredictable condition of the performer, then as now. It's also simply another good chance to see what makes Brown a stunning, affecting soloist.
  • The Creation: Plus 40: Yes, be there. It's Carmen de Lavallade. She dances a re-imagination of her husband Geoffrey Holder's 1972 piece, narrating and embodying the creation of the universe by a lonely god and the development of a human figure from feeble to regal. A convincing and captivating storyteller.
  • Been There, Done That: The marvelously loosey-goosey Juel D. Lane and Brown romp around as a couple of performers competing with one another for the limelight and the audience's love. Fun and just short enough to not wear out its welcome.
  • The Groove to Nobody's Business: Seen this nutty one lots of times, too? See it again. Everyone's wonderful in it.
Camille A. Brown at The Joyce Theater -- Today, 2pm and Sunday, 7:30pm (tickets)

8th Avenue and 19th Street, Manhattan

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