The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Dancers converse on social issues, creative process

Nick Rohlman
Hancher Auditorium is seen on Thursday Jan. 25, 2018.

Camille A. Brown has dedicated her career to creating choreography and dance exploring culture, social justice, and African-American narratives.

She will talk about her creative process, thoughts, and experience today at 7:30 p.m. in Hancher’s Strauss Hall. The discussion, originally part of the Creative Matters Series, is free and open to the public.

Brown is the lead choreographer of her company, Camille A. Brown and Dancers. She is also a 2016 Guggenheim fellow, Broadway choreographer, and community-based dance instructor.

Her company is touring and performing Ink, the third work in a trilogy focusing on African-American culture and identity. The piece will mix a variety of dance styles including jazz, tap, hip-hop, African-American social dance, and African dance. Tickets are available from Hancher for the performance, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Although Brown was initially invited to give a lecture-style presentation as part of the Creative Matters Lecture Series, she decided on a discussion format instead. Dance Assistant Professor Michael Sakamoto will ask her questions on stage.

“She wanted it to be more of a free-flowing conversation in which ideas, experiences, feelings, functions, and opinions could flow more naturally from the conversation,” Sakamoto said. “It’s an opportunity to give the audience not only something less formal but more inviting and accessible.”

Sakamoto said they will both speak from their experience as theater artists and people of color.

“Her work speaks from her identity as an African American. Some of her choreography draws on black social dance,” Sakamoto said. “All of those are cultural practices and cultural expressions on how society perceives black cultural practices. Therefore, how society accepts black identity is a lot of what her work is really about.”

He said he plans to ask Brown how black social dance influences her work and why and how is it important to show black culture on the mainstage.

“How do we get to greater understanding, sympathy, and compassion between cultures?” Sakamoto said. “A lot of [Brown’s] work is about this.”

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Leslie Revaux, the manager of campus communications for the UI Office for Research and Economic Development, said all of the Creative Matters Lectures are in partnership with the UI Research Office and UI Arts Advancement Committee. She said Hancher is primarily involved with Brown’s lecture and performance.

“The [Creative Matters] series seeks to convey that creativity is at the heart of what we do at the UI,” Revaux said.

Hancher Executive Director Chuck Swanson said Hancher is a co-commissioner of Ink. Hancher contributes by giving the dancers time in Strauss Hall and in the theater to continue to develop the piece, he said.

“Hancher has this history of helping artists develop work and create work,” Swanson said. “I think of this as a laboratory in which things are created and born.”

Some of the company’s dancers have also hosted master classes for UI students in the Dance Department this week, he noted.

“We’re still a long way to go in terms of people simply understanding who each other are,” Sakamoto said. “Hancher does a great job of fulfilling this mission by bringing artists to town whose work addresses these questions. That’s what Camille’s whole career is dedicated to.”

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About the Contributor
Julia DiGiacomo
Julia DiGiacomo, Politics reporter
Julia DiGiacomo is a politics reporter and digital producer at The Daily Iowan. She is a junior majoring in journalism and international relations with a Spanish minor. Throughout her freshman year, Julia worked as a news reporter with a focus on the human rights beat.