There’s something very special about an artist who takes time out of her very crowded professional life to give back to her community. We got to witness an example of this when Camille A. Brown’s childhood dance teacher brought the female high school population of her studio—along with many of their parents—to take class with Brown for our cover shoot. These were well-trained dance students, so it was fun to watch the way they could pick up Brown’s movement quickly—and also to watch their rapt attention when she spoke before class. Brown came from where they are now. And the fact that she’s built a career as an award-winning choreographer with her own company and Broadway theater credits is a direct message to these girls: You, too, can do this—or whatever you set your mind to. This is the foundation of her new outreach project, Black Girl Spectrum, which you can read more about on page 66.
The movement Brown taught that day was part of the program she directed (with E. Moncell Durden) this summer for The School at Jacob’s Pillow. During that two-week social-dance program, dancers explored the African-American folk and vernacular dance that predates the Broadway and concert forms that we think of today as jazz dance. For “Is This the End of Jazz?” (page 82), we asked seven jazz dance artists about the current state of the genre.
We think you’ll find this and much more to be of interest in this Back to School issue. Whether your post-summer return is to a studio, conservatory, college or K–12 setting, our goal is to inspire and inform. We also hope to get to the beach just one more time before September!
Photo by Matthew Murphy