by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Director and Choreographer Camille A. Brown was careful to stress the complexities of Black Girl Linguistic Play – substance over mere style and what it meant in the societal spectrum for Black Women – how they move, how they feel in their own bodies, not to be ashamed of themselves. To be aggressive, strong, playful, meaningful, resilient — and not just sexual.  

The history of communication, evolved over time, once outright forbidden, couched in natural physical syntax, played out in jiggling, jumping, bounding, sliding and shuffling, loud and explosive-as-a-cannon ringing across a harbor, at REDCAT earlier this month with a special performance by Camille A. Brown & Dancers, a group recognized for its introspective approach to cultural themes through visceral movement and socio-political dialogues.

Photo by Matt Karas

In #BlackGirlLP, found is an absolute vocal power of the spoken word without uttering a single sound.  It is the willingness to be challenged and to challenge the very idea of identity of a black female in urban American culture within the framework of dance.   

As I witnessed a raw, naive energy throughout the piece, I couldn’t help but feel that although #BlackGirlLP could continue its discussion in the academic refuge of the downtown Los Angeles space, or in any other enclosed tour venue, its voice, its very existence demanded a ubiquitous, “Liberté!” in the zeitgeist. A resounding and final, “This is we” in the face of commercialism and stereotypes, classifications or tightly constructed boxes.  

With original music compositions (live music by pianist, Scott Patterson and electric bassist, Tracey Wormworth), Brown uses the rhythmic play of the African-American dance vernacular including social dancing, double-dutch, steppin’, tap, Juba, ring shout, and gesture to evoke childhood memories of self-discovery.

Intimate and exciting, I’m hoping this piece makes a quick return or goes viral somewhere online.  No young African-American girl, in truth, no girl at all, should miss this opportunity although specifically here unique to African-Americans, to celebrate all the facets of what a female really is.  Utterly organic and above all clear, every familiar, excessive, tricky, edgy, fun moment is a transporting experience.

 Photo (above) by Christopher Duggan