Camille A. Brown & Dancers @ the Kennedy Center

camille a brown

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I had the wonderful opportunity of spending the weekend at the Kennedy Center. This weekend marked a great feat in discourse and dance history as Camille A. Brown & Dancers made their debut at the Kennedy Center. I saw the second night of the performance where this four time Princess Grace Award Winner presented Ink. The following night included in the 40th Kennedy Center Honors that airs December 26 on CBS. (Honorees include: Carmen De Lavallade, Gloria Estefan, LL COOL J, Norman Lear and Lionel Richie.) This weekend at the Kennedy Center also celebrated Fred Astaire, another Kennedy Center Honoree.

Anyways, back to Camille A. Brown… This performance attracted everyone: young and old, different ethnicities and different socioeconomic statuses. I was lucky enough to have a box seat at this performance where I was sat next to presitigious memebers of today’s arts and culture. Other attendees included the Editor of Essence, Vanessa K. De Luca and Virgina Johnson, Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem (who just finished the European Tour).

The night presented Ms. Brown’s Original work Ink that infused cultural movement, post modern gesturalism, a blend of live and recorded movement completely stripped. The stage was completely stripped, and the only set was a broken painting hung on either side and the live music set up in between the two. What was extraordinary about this performance was it was a relevant mark at Kennedy Center and Dance History because it placed Post Modern movement at the center of the dance world. Creating a large conversation about the culture and evolution of the opposite side of technical classical dance.

As the performance was interesting, the thing that I admired most about the piece was Ms. Brown’s ability to create a conversation between two dancers based on movement. It is something that classical ballet, and even contemporary ballet lacks. It wasn’t just telling a story, but it was her ability to almost portray a dailogue of movement between two people on stage with music. While we all know post-modern dance isn’t really my thing, nor does the trends of post-modern dance play a huge influencial factor in Classical Ballet- It was interesting to see different bodytypes,  lack of technique, and almost a since of the abondonment from anything remotely classical on stage at the Kennedy Center; especially on the evening prior to the Kennedy Center Awards.

I would have included more of the names and quotes from the program but I lost my program book following the performance. But bravo to all of the dancers.

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Balanchine is in the Air…

A Ballet Education’s Covergirl, Mimi Tompkins will be taking on Ballet Arizona’s All Balanchine program this month. The program runs May 11-14 at Symphony Hall. I will definitely be going. I will let you all know what show I will be going to! I am just waiting for casting to be announced. The program will consist of three of my top ten Balanchine Ballets: Photo courtesy of Arizona Dances, photographed by Ashley Baker.

Western Symphony– a ballet that is all-American, funny, light-hearted and exciting. It is broken into movements. Notably, the second movement or the Adagio Waltz is known for the playfulness of pas de deux. The final movement (fourth movement, Rondo) is the most famous as it ends with the entire cast doing consecutive pirouettes from fifth as the curtain closes. The below video is the first video I had ever seen of Wester Symphony, well I think it was most everyone’s in my generation… I remember watching Susan Jaffe, now the dean at NCSA and being in awe. It wasn’t because of the high legs but just how charismatic she was, how musical she was, how fun she was. Watching Nikolaj Hübbe, artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet, was insane. So energetic, so fun. Then, I had the privilege of sharing the stage with him for our run of Nutcracker and I felt like I was in a dream. But, I can watch this video on VHS over and over again and it doesn’t get old. It will probably rip soon, but thankfully someone has illegally uploaded it to youtube and we can all watch it before the trust takes it down.

Square Dance, the fast, country, do-si-do, juxtaposed ballet … but really the ballet is centered around ridiculously hard footwork, and extremely fast, fun steps… when the orchestra isn’t slowed down… this ballet is invigorating. The ballet also has a really great solo for male dancers that isn’t just jumping and turning… Taylor Stanley of NYCB on Square Dance.

Lastly,  Agon; the epitome of Balanchine’s black and white collaborations. With music by Stravinsky, Agon is the provocative tale of music and choreography. Every dancer who dances the pas de deux brings something different, every dancer in the corps is tested to find their story, and every night is different. Definitely excited just to see how the dancers at BAZ take on this ballet.

Tickets are available here: http://balletaz.org/performance/all-balanchine-2017/