Josefina Santos, Courtesy Camille A. Brown

Dance Magazine Award Honoree: Camille A. Brown

This week we're sharing tributes to all the 2020 Dance Magazine Award honorees. For tickets to our virtual ceremony taking place December 7, visit dancemediafoundation.org.


Although Camille A. Brown has been well praised by fans, colleagues and critics, although the sheer number of awards, commissions and other honors she has received over the past two decades is exceptionally high, she remains one of those successful artists with no time for ego. She's not driven by it. Rather—as performer, maker, educator and advocate—she's motivated to highlight the complex histories and lived experiences of people of the Black diaspora and to celebrate, especially, our outstanding creativity in music and dance.


For many, awareness of Brown's brilliance goes back as far as her early days with Evidence, the renowned company of Ronald K. Brown. (The two artists share a surname but are not related.) In a troupe full of luminaries—each dancer steeped in Ron's musical sensitivity and spiritual passion—this dazzler caught every eye. Then, as now, she exuded belief in the power of her expressivity and her independence as a Black woman.

Clearly, Brown would step out on her own and make her mark as a choreographer and company director. But no one could have anticipated how handily her work would conquer not only concert dance stages but also Broadway and off-Broadway theater, opera, network television and now the world of Netflix. From Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco and Urban Bush Women to Shakespeare in the Park and The Metropolitan Opera, Brown's choreography—at once rigorous in research and execution, accessible, socially aware and deliciously appealing—has made this modest artist into the go-to dancemaker of her era.

If dance is the poetry of the body, Brown not only takes a line for a walk, she extends it backwards, forwards and 360 degrees in space, articulating every level, every dimension, every rhythm, responsive to the holy moment like jazz improv, church and Mardi Gras. She is a griot of dance, carrying the lore of how dance urges humans towards freedom, celebration and unity. She even illustrates this in her 2016 TED Talk, a capsule history of African-American social dances, arguably the most influential dances worldwide.

Without a doubt, if any artist can finally persuade America of dance's essential value, it will be Camille A. Brown.

So, what's left? We will soon need to cook up another medium or venue for Brown to tackle. A site-specific gig at the International Space Station might do the trick. For sure, she'll find a way to excel!

Join Dance Magazine in celebrating Camille A. Brown at the December 7 virtual Dance Magazine Awards ceremony. Tickets are now available here.

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Photo by Ernest Gregory, Courtesy Fleming

How This Tap-Dancer-Turned-Composer Stays True to His Jazz Roots

From Riverdance to HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," tap dancer DeWitt Fleming Jr. has proved to be a triple threat on the stage and screen. He's also an entrepreneur, selling his own line of wireless microphones, DeW It Right Tap Mics. Last year, he added "composer" to his resumé with the release of Sax and Taps INTERSPLOSION!, the first tap dance and jazz album recorded at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club. One of the songs, co-written with jazz saxophonist Erica von Kleist, was a finalist for last year's Unsigned Only music competition.

"When you're invited to dance with a jazz band, it's always assumed that, as a tap dancer, you're going to be a feature. If you go all the way back to New Orleans' Congo Square, and even before then, dance was a part of the music. I wanted to stick to those roots and create an album where everything was intertwined."

He recently spoke with Dance Magazine about his collaboration with von Kleist and the creation of their album.

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January 2021