Changemakers: Queens-born choreographer has the year of her life

Posted at 6:09 PM, Oct 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-21 18:10:20-04

NOHO — A Queens-born girl who had a love for dance turned her passion into an award-winning career as one of the most sought-after choreographers in the industry.

This week's very busy changemaker, Camille A. Brown, is working on four major projects this year.

Brown's choreography on "Choir Boy" earned her a Tony Nomination, making her the first black woman to be nominated for the category in over two decades.

Camille A. Brown grew up in Jamaica, Queens. Small in stature and in voice, she found movement helped her communicate.

“I used to get teased a lot, so movement was a way to express myself in situation where I felt like I couldn't," she said.

Seeing her talent, her mother enrolled her in dance classes at Bernice Johnson and DeVore Dance Center both in Jamaica. She attended La Guardia High School and Alvin Ailey at the same time.

While she was a trained dancer, choreography was always in her.

“I started choreographing when I was 5 years old trying to create movement for cartoons like Gummy Bears.”

But it wasn't until college when she realized her love for being a creator.

Now 39 years old, she's one of the most sought-after choreographers, this month making her debut at The Met with "Porgy and Bess."

“When I first got it, it was amazing like 'o-m-g' this is The Met, then I was like, now let's get to work.”

At the same time she's at The Met, she's also choreographing the play "For Colored Girls' at the public theater, a cast she says inspires her.

“They are really magical people.”

Some might say Camille is magical, as she seems to appear throughout the city working on her different projects. She's also choreographing a piece for Alvin Ailey's upcoming season, working on the film adaptation of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and two tours with her dance company Camille A. Brown.

Her role model? Debbie Allen.

“As a black woman I see a reflection of myself in her, I see through her those possibilities.”

If you want to see "For Colored Girls" it’s running through December 1st. "Porgy and Bess" is running through February.

Brown will also be performing with her company, Camille A. Brown & Dancers at The Joyce Theater, for three performances of her Bessie Award-winning Mr. TOL E. RAncE, on November 9th and 10th.