Camille A. Brown/Andrea Miller/ Kate Weare/Monica Bill Barnes

By Asantewaa, Eva Yaa | Dance Magazine, October 2010 | Go to article overview

Camille A. Brown/Andrea Miller/ Kate Weare/Monica Bill Barnes


Asantewaa, Eva Yaa, Dance Magazine


The Joyce Theater, NYC * August 9-14, 2010

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"She pushes them hard," said a guy behind me at the Joyce, his tone admiring. His friend concurred. Did they mean Gallim Dance's Andrea Miller? Or Camille A. Brown, the other dance-maker on the program? Kate Weare and Monica Bill Barnes--whose equally remarkable troupes teamed up the following night on the alternate program--could fit that description too.

Miller's dystopian Wonderland, a world premiere, strips its dozen dancers of civilization's surface niceties. We fall through Miller's invisible mirror into a place of floating reverberations: toddlers' laughter; familiar snippets of The Mickey Mouse Club theme song; brassy, grinding, growling music. Rough-edged denizens--the most threatening and secretly most fearful aspects of our human nature--pull and push at one another, hurtling around like a pack of animals on their way to nothing but trouble. Busby Berkeley arrangements and rave scenarios flare up like acid hallucinations. Rubbery bodies turn this cautionary tale into a contortion-ary one, at once repellent and compelling.

When Brown observes the human condition--and an ensemble of dancers--she sees indomitability. Her excerpt from New Second Line (2006), inspired by post-Katrina New Orleans, sings the energy of rebirth. There's a flowing ease and simplicity that Brown abandons elsewhere. With the septet Girls Verse 1 (a New York premiere) and City of Rain (a world premiere for 10), the choreographer stuffs phrases with jerky tics. They read like an accelerated film, like visual noise. It's as if the faster dancers move, the harder it might be for bad luck or floodwaters or even death itself to catch them.

Fans of Brown's 2007 ensemble piece for Ailey, The Groove to Nobody's Business, know her strength lies in the specificity of dramatic characters. Two works shown here, as New York premieres, demonstrate this too. She's in total control of her solo, Good & Grown, set to a dreamy lite-jazz version of "It Was a Very Good Year" by Wes Montgomery and a smokin' one by Saycon Sengbloh. Though typically busy, the choreographic lines cut clean. Brown makes that empty space around her tough little body seem like a doughy opponent that she's pinned to the rope. …

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