Congratulations to Dance Magazine Award Honoree Ronald K. Brown
Ronald K. Brown tells the stories of those who don't typically see themselves reflected onstage. Photo by Jeff Strout, courtesy Evidence
Choreographer Ronald K. Brown sees himself as a weaver—of movement, but more importantly, of stories. "When I started my company Evidence 33 years ago, I needed to make a space for what I thought of as evidence—work that tells stories, so that when people saw the work, they would see a reflection or evidence of themselves onstage," says Brown, now 51. "That was my mission, my purpose."
Fast-forward to today: Evidence has become a mainstay in the modern dance world and Brown is now considered a vanguard among choreographers fusing Western contemporary dance with movement from the African diaspora, including popular dance and traditions from West African cultures like Senegalese sabar.
The fusion comes naturally to Brown. "I just use this reservoir in my body and whatever comes out, comes out," he says. "I'm playing around now for an Ailey piece (The Call) and yes, there's an arabesque and some passés in there, but it's still coming out with my movement. I just let it flow."
Brown's trademark style has garnered legions of fans in addition to numerous accolades. His relationship with the Ailey organization, for example, extends back more than 20 years, and the company calls his 1999 work Grace one of the most popular in its repertoire.
Other companies who have performed Brown's works include Philadanco, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and Ballet Hispánico.Brown has also choreographed for theater including for Regina Taylor's play Crowns, for which he earned an AUDELCO Award; and for Broadway's The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess, for which he received an Astaire Award.
"A lot of Ron's work is about loss, how losing somebody brings people together," says Arcell Cabuag, who's been dancing with Brown for 21 years. "Ron wants us to be completely open, where we're not thinking about steps. There's a huge amount of humility you have to have, where you just let everything go."
Brown says, ultimately, he tries to find ways to reflect what lies beneath people and their lives. "When I hear my audience say it feels real, that's the key."
Devon Teuscher performing the titular role in Jane Eyre. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT
Story ballets that debut during American Ballet Theatre's spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House are always the subject of much curiosity—and, sometimes, much debate. Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre was no different. The ballet follows the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Brönte's novel as she grows from a willful orphan to a self-possessed governess, charting her romance with the haughty Mr. Rochester and the social forces that threaten to tear them apart.
While the ballet was warmly received in the UK when Northern Ballet premiered it in 2016, its reception from New York City–based critics has been far less welcoming. A group of editors from Dance Magazine and two of our sister publications, Dance Spirit and Pointe, sat down to discuss our own reactions.