Jacob’s Pillow has expanded the scope of the honor to include
A Creative Development Residency
A future Festival engagement
A $25,000 unrestricted cash prize
Camille A. Brown is the recipient of the 2016 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, a prestigious honor that carries a $25,000 cash prize. It will be presented to Brown who is a contemporary choreographer, dancer, and artistic director of her own dance company. Regularly garnering acclaim for her “vividness and versatility” (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times), Brown holds a New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award, two Princess Grace Awards, and a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.
Her work has toured nationally and internationally.
The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award was established in 2007 and, in honor of its 10th anniversary, the Pillow has broadened the scope of this honor with a commitment to the artist’s growth and future work. In addition to the unrestricted cash prize, this Award also includes a committed engagement for the 2017 Festival and a Creative Development Residency at Jacob’s Pillow. Previous recipients of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award include the legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham; MacArthur Fellows Michelle Dorrance and Kyle Abraham; and John Heginbotham of Dance Heginbotham, among others.
“Camille A. Brown is truly a contemporary choreographer,” says incoming Jacob’s Pillow Director Pamela Tatge whose first major decision as the new Director of the organization was the recipient of this award. She will officially begin her tenure at the Pillow on April 18. Says Tatge: “Her works are vividly theatrical, translating African-American social dances and other influences into a dance vocabulary all her own, captivating us with dynamic intensity, joy, and abandon. She is unafraid and forthright in asking us to confront the issues of our day, mining the stories of our past for what they can tell us about the complexities of the world in which we live. Camille has earned the Award not only for the caliber of her invention and artistry, but also for her commitment to foster cultural and educational dialogues among audiences and local communities.”
“I am extremely thankful and thrilled that Pamela Tatge has chosen me to receive the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award,” says Camille A. Brown. “I have been committed to creating a path that is uniquely my own, and for Pam to acknowledge my work in this way is incredibly humbling. I am thankful for her continued support, as well as that of Ella Baff, “J.R.” Glover, and Jacob’s Pillow as a whole – all have fostered my career as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. The process is never easy, often filled with many growing pains, but I am appreciative that through it all, this support system has been there to encourage my career choices and goals.”
In addition to the cash prize and Creative Development Residency, Brown will bring her most recent work to the 2017 Festival. “I am excited to bring my latest work, BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play, to Jacob’s Pillow audiences next year,” says Brown of the future engagement. “For me, teaching the history of African-American social dances at The School at Jacob’s Pillow was a highlight of 2015. To continue honoring that rich history by performing BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play at the Pillow is an incredible gift. When I started creating this work, I wanted there to be a duality, a culturally specific work with universal themes. This work speaks to the human condition, and because of that, I hope people are able to see themselves in the work, regardless of race or gender.”
Called a “storyteller with many tales to tell” (Janine Parker, The Boston Globe) and “a fabulous performer” (Wendy Perron, Dance Magazine), Camille A. Brown has created work described as “ecstatic and serene, a portrait of a woman deliriously comfortable in her own skin” (Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post). A prolific choreographer, her powerful depth, searing sincerity, and invaluable perspective through the lens of a modern Black female has made her a highly coveted choreographer in the U.S. Brown has been commissioned by America’s foremost dance companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Urban Bush Women, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and her work has been met with critical acclaim on both regional and Broadway stages across the country.
Brown to perform at Season Opening Gala
Pamela Tatge will present Brown with the Award at the Season Opening Gala on June 18, where Brown will perform a duet from BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play with company member and Astaire Award recipient Catherine “Cat” Foster. In addition to the Award, Brown will continue to develop her new work ink during her Creative Development Residency at the Pillow in the fall. In 2017, Brown and her company will engage with communities in the Berkshires through a series of participatory workshops, before performing BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play in the Festival that summer. Brown has a deep history with Jacob’s Pillow dating back to 2002. Following her first Creative Development Residency at the Pillow in 2009, Camille A. Brown & Dancers had their Jacob’s Pillow debut in the Doris Duke Theatre in 2010 with two world premiere works. The following year, Brown returned to the Doris Duke Theatre for a special collaborative engagement with Kyle Abraham titled Kyle and Camille (2011). Before presenting her own work at the Festival, Brown performed with multiple companies including Ronald K. Brown\Evidence and Roger C. Jeffrey/Subtle Changes. In 2015, Brown led The School at Jacob’s Pillow’s Social Dances: From Jazz to Hip-Hop program with E. Moncell Durden. Later this season, Brown will be featured in the Festival 2016 engagement And Still You Must Swing with tap dance icons Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards, Derick K. Grant, and Jason Samuels Smith in the Doris Duke Theatre, July 6-10, and she will participate in a PillowTalk on July 8.
The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award was created in 2007 through an annual anonymous gift of $50,000, of which $25,000 is given to an artist of exceptional vision. In commemoration, the honoree receives a custom-designed glass award sculpture by Berkshire-based artist Tom Patti, whose work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among other prominent institutions worldwide. The inaugural Award was given in 2007 to Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, co-directors of Big Dance Theater. Subsequent awardees were Alonzo King (2008), Artistic Director of Alonzo King LINES Ballet; Merce Cunningham (2009), whose company gave its final performances during his lifetime at Jacob’s Pillow that season; Bill T. Jones (2010), who accepted the Award weeks after receiving his second Tony Award for the Broadway hit FELA!; Crystal Pite (2011), international choreographer and Artistic Director of Kidd Pivot; Kyle Abraham (2012), dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of Abraham.In.Motion; perennial Festival artist Michelle Dorrance (2013) dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of Dorrance Dance; John Heginbotham (2014) choreographer and Artistic Director of Dance Heginbotham; and Liz Gerring (2015) choreographer and director of Liz Gerring Dance.
The donor’s annual gift also provides for $25,000 of annual support for Jacob’s Pillow commissions, presentations, and the Creative Development Residency Program, which has funded residencies for numerous dance artists including Sara Mearns, Bryan Arias, John Heginbotham, Michelle Dorrance, Andrea Miller, Adam H. Weinert, Kyle Abraham, Camille A. Brown, Suzanne Farrell, MADBOOTS DANCE, Big Dance Theater, zoe | juniper, Stephen Petronio, Kimberly Bartosik, Rashaun Mitchell, Silas Reiner, and many others.
About the artist and her work
Lauded for her “rhythmic gifts and intensity” (The New Yorker), Camille A. Brown’s work is “both expressive and economic-no words needed” (Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times). Brown utilizes musical composition as storytelling and makes a personal claim on history through her perspective as a modern Black female. Brown is the Artistic Director of Camille A. Brown & Dancers where she leads her dancers through excavations of ancestral stories, both timeless and traditional, that illustrate stories which connect history with contemporary culture.
Brown has been commissioned by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco, Urban Bush Women, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, among others. Some of her theatre credits include A Streetcar Named Desire (Broadway), The Fortress of Solitude (The Public Theater, nominated for Lucille Lortel “Outstanding Choreographer” Award for Choreography), A Winter’s Tale (Regional), and tick, tick…BOOM! starring Lin Manuel Miranda (New York City Center Encores! Off-Center), and the recent Cabin in the Sky (New York City Center Encores!). Her newest work, BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play, premiered in fall 2015 to critical acclaim. Currently, Brown is developing a new piece with the working title ink which seeks to use the lyricism of iconic hip-hop albums from the 1970s to today to engage audiences in the topics of race, politics, gender, and cultural identity. Among other accolades, Brown is a 2014 New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award recipient, 2015 USA Jay Franke & David Herro Fellow, 2015 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient, 2015 TED Fellow, a two-time Princess Grace Award recipient, a two-time recipient of New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project: Production Grant, the recipient of the 2014 Joyce Award with DANCECleveland, and a 2014 New York City Center Choreography Fellow.
Brown has also founded two initiatives: The Gathering, an annual open forum for intergenerational Black female artists to advocate for greater cultural equity and acknowledgement in the contemporary dance world; and BLACK GIRL SPECTRUM (BGS), a multi-faceted community engagement initiative that seeks to amplify the cultural and creative empowerment of Black girls and women through dance, dialogue, and popular education tools. On June 4, 2016, BGS will have its inaugural symposium with the theme “Social Dance for Social Change” at The National Black Theatre in Harlem, NY. For more information about Camille A. Brown, visit www.camilleabrown.org.