Getting to See Camille A. Brown's Opening Night at The Joyce
September 24, 2015

Fana Fraser and Beatrice Capote in BLACK GIRL

Last night, I attended the opening night premiere of Camille Brown’s (DT, August 2015) newest piece, BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play. It was exciting to see the final version of what she’d been working on when I interviewed her for our cover story! Brown’s commitment to portraying black girls as more than stereotypes or tropes (she lists a few in our cover story, like the depiction of black women as angry, rude or ratchet) was immediately clear in the piece. Structured as a series of solos and duets, BLACK GIRL featured Brown and her company as just that—girls, eager to play, form relationships, claim their identity, laugh, tell stories. Watching Brown and company member Catherine Foster clap and stomp out a complicated rhythm or transform double-dutch jump-roping into choreographed movement felt real and joyous.

A duet for Beatrice Capote and Fana Fraser felt more layered—the girls appeared to be close friends, first racing each other around the set (a multilevel platform with a chalkboard wall, designed by Elizabeth C. Nelson) and later good-naturedly competing with each other in recognizable social-dance moves. Later, Mora-Amina Parker and Yusha-Marie Sorzano took on a more mature tone, supporting each other in easeful weight shares and smooth lifts. So much of the piece felt natural, as if the audience was invited to glimpse these ladies’ inner lives.

Scott Patterson’s ambient score for piano and electric bass felt appropriately atmospheric, as if the entire evening could have been a dream or a memory.

Congratulations to Brown and her company—they’ll be at The Joyce Theater in New York City through Sunday!

Brown, left, and Catherine Foster

Both photos by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Richard Kornberg and Associates

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