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Camille A. Brown & Dancers “Black Girl: Linguistic Play” Important and Delightful

by Joanna G. Harris
December 10, 2017
Cal Performances: Zellerbach Auditorium
101 Zellerbach Hall #4800
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720
510.642.9988
Joanna G. Harris Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
Set to musical memories beautifully played by Scott Patterson, piano and Robin Bramlett, electric bass, Camille A. Brown and her four dancers assembled an evening of works on December 8 that recalled childhood play and yet evoked complex adult confrontations.

Brown’s program note reads: What are the dimensions of black-girl joy that cannot be boxed into a smile or grimace, but demonstrated in a head tilt, lip small, hand gesture and more?

In “Black Girl: Linguistic Play's" four sections, primarily set as duets, Brown demonstrated, through a marvelous mixture of game moves, tap dance, social dance style and gyrations of all sorts, that “play” evokes mood and memory.

Brown started the evening, solo, in shorts and sneakers, dancing phrases from children's games including Hop-scotch, footwork from double-dutch jump roping and a variety of random stretches and tap dance. She was joined by fellow dancer Catherine Foster and together they extended the movement vocabulary, both competitive and complimentary. Other duets were performed by Mayte Natalio, Beatrice Capote and Kendra “vie boheme” Dennard, whose interactions on the many leveled set (by Elizabeth C. Nelson) evoked sometimes painful, sometimes joyful, interactions. The final duet, with Brown and Dennard, demonstrated the need for care and comfort.

The dancing throughout was evocative and lively. Set against Nelson’s graffiti wall and recalling the sidewalk nursery rhymes and games, “Black Girl: Linguistic Play” (2015) makes its marvelous impact in all our lives.

Credits include Burke Wilmore, lighting design, Sam Crawford, sound design and Shaune Johnson and Marshall Davis, tap coaches. Brown has brought to Cal Performances an important and delightful addition to the Radical series.
Camille A. Brown and Dancers in 'Black Girl: Linguistic Play.'

Camille A. Brown and Dancers in "Black Girl: Linguistic Play."

Photo © & courtesy of Christopher Duggan


Camille A. Brown and Catherine Foster in 'Black Girl: Linguistic Play.'

Camille A. Brown and Catherine Foster in "Black Girl: Linguistic Play."

Photo © & courtesy of Christopher Duggan

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