MOVING PEOPLE: Camille A. Brown on the Advice She'd Give Young and Black Choreographers, Her Pre-performance Ritual with Her Casts, and Her Favorite Activity Outside of Dance

Camille A. Brown
Camille A. Brown

Camille A. Brown


CAMILLE A. BROWN is a prolific Black female choreographer, who is reclaiming the cultural narratives of African American identity.  She is a 2020 Dance Magazine Award recipient and 2020 Obie Award Winner for Sustained Excellence in Choreography. She is a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow, Audelco Award recipient, five-time Princess Grace Award winner, Guggenheim Fellow, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient, USA Jay Franke & David Herro Fellow, TED Fellow, and Doris Duke Artist Award recipient.
Her Bessie award winning company, Camille A. Brown & Dancers (CABD), tours nationally and internationally and is now featured on Google Arts & Culture. As a 2020 Emerson Collective Fellow, Ms. Brown is building the “Social Dance for Social Change” virtual school — “The School that Camille A. Brown Built” to provide opportunities for dance education, cultural engagement, and mentorship during the pandemic and beyond.
Broadway and Off-Broadway theater & television credits include: Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), Tony Award-Winning Broadway revival, Once On This Island (Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and Chita Rivera Nominations), Toni Stone (Drama Desk, Lortel nominee, Audelco nominee), Emmy Award-winning Jesus Christ Superstar Live on NBC, Broadway’s A Streetcar Named Desire, The Fortress of Solitude (Lortel Nomination), BELLA: An American Tall Tale (Lortel, Audelco winner), Much Ado About Nothing (Audelco winner, SDCF finalist) for Shakespeare in the Park, among others. 
Ms. Brown’s TED-Ed talk, “A Visual History of Social Dance in 25 Moves” was chosen as one of the most notable talks of 2016 by TED Curator, Chris Anderson, and has over 15 million views on Facebook and counting.
Ms. Brown is the choreographer of The Metropolitan Opera’s Porgy & Bess. She will make her feature film debut in the soon-to-be-released Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, directed by George C. Wolfe (Netflix). Brown will make her directorial debut with the Broadway revival of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Fire Shut Up In My Bones for The Metropolitan Opera (co-directed with James Robinson), and Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Westport Country Playhouse. 

Left portrait: Josefina Santos

Right portrait: Whitney Browne


Published on December 23, 2020


My earliest memory of dancing is _____________.

watching Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson videos and musicals with my mom


I knew I had to be a dancer when ___________.

I realized it was the only way I felt comfortable expressing myself


The most expressive part of the body is ___________.

the spirit


Music is to dance like ___________ is to ___________.


This also honors the music in silence.


My motto is ___________.

keep moving forward, and be brave about it


If I could choreograph a perfect day, it would include these three things: ___________.

growing, learning, and being around friends and family


My greatest influences are ___________.


I look for ___________ in the dancers with whom I work because ___________.


it's important if we all want the work to go to that next level.


A personal challenge I face is ___________.

finding motivation during COVID


___________ is overrated.

Social media


A song I never get tired of is ___________.

the song my mom has been singing to me since I was a baby


If I could I go back in time to watch one show, it would be ___________ because ___________.

VespersDreamgirls, The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin'

it was epic, and I would've loved to see those performances live


I would like to learn to ___________.

play the violin


A pre-performance ritual I have with my casts is ___________.

standing in a circle, holding hands, and telling them I love and appreciate them


Something that gives me energy is ___________.

seeing something inspiring


If I could give young Black dancers and dance-makers one piece of advice, it would be ___________.

"do you" always; surround yourself with people who care about you and will give you a loving and challenging critique


Outside of dance, my favorite activity is ___________.



When beginning a new project, I always ___________.

have lots of questions!


Being a 2020 Dance Magazine awardee means ___________ to me.

that I have the opportunity to thank my community for everything they've been


I am looking forward to ___________ in 2021.

brighter days

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