Dancing and Speaking Black Womanhood

New York-based dancer and choreographer Camille A. Brown recently bestowed a gift upon Los Angeles with her company's performance of Black Girl: Linguistic Play at REDCAT. The hour-long piece was superb - a beautiful interweaving of themes around black female identity, friendship, sisterhood and family performed through a wide range of genres of African-American dance spanning centuries.

But the real gift shared over the performance's four day run on Bunker Hill was the opportunity for conversation and dialogue. Unlike almost all other performative art we typically see, Camille and company came back on stage immediately after the program to engage in an open dialogue with the audience. A deeply honest forum, the discussion elevated the whole performance by allowing people to openly share the ways they personally connected to it and by hearing the dancers and musicians share their artistic process. It made us think about the way kids used to play in cities, the unshakable stigmatizations of slavery, and how too often dancers - and artists and many alike - have "the instinct trained out of them" in order to deliver what is expected of them. Bravo to REDCAT and Camille A. Brown; we hope to see more honest work like this in 2016 and beyond.       •