Cal Performances UC Berkeley
Friday, December 8, 2017
BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play (2015)
Set to musical memories beautifully played by Scott Patterson, piano and Robin Bramlett, electric bass, Camille A. Brown and her four dancers assembled an evening of works that recall childhood play and yet evoked complex adult confrontations. Brown’s program note reads: What are the dimensions of black-girl joy that cannot be boxed into a smile or grimace, but demonstrated in a head tilt, lip small, hand gesture and more?
In four sections, primarily set as duets, Brown demonstrates, through a marvelous mixture of game moves, tap dance, social dance style and gyrations of all sorts, that “play” evokes mood and memory.
Brown started the evening, solo, in shorts and sneakers, dancing phrases from Hop-scotch, footwork from double-dutch and a variety of random stretches and tap dance. She is joined by fellow dancer Catherine Foster and together they extend the vocabulary, both competitive and complimentary. Other duets are performed by Mayte Natalio, Beatrice Capote and Kendra “vie boheme” Dennard, whose interactions, on the many leveled set (by Elizabeth C. Nelson) evoke sometimes painful, sometimes joyful interactions. The final duet, with Brown and Dennard, demonstrates the need for care and comfort.
The dancing throughout is evocative and lively. Set against Nelson’s graffiti wall and recalling the sidewalk nursery rhymes and games, “Black Girl: linguistic Play” makes its marvelous impact in all our lives.
Credits include Burke Wilmore, lighting design, Sam Crawford, sound design and Shaune Johnson and Marshall Davis, tap coaches. Brown has brought to Cal Performances an important and delightful addition to the Radical series.
Photos: Courtesy Camille A. Brown