What Everyone Ought to Know about Black Female Choreographers in the US

The Black Women in Dance: Stepping Out of the Barriers conference in May 2016 will see dance enthusiasts unite with Urban Bush Women to reflect upon the challenges that have faced Black women in the world of dance.

American choreographer Cameron McKinney performed in Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2015 and is returning with his new work this year, and he gave me his views on the current circumstances for Black female dance artists on the other side of the Atlantic!

“My most consistent interaction with a Black female choreographer is with Christal Brown. I’ve been working with Christal on and off for about five years, first as a student at Middlebury College and then professionally as a member of her company INSPIRIT.

In watching Christal—who is a powerhouse performer, choreographer, activist, teacher, community organizer, you name it—both I (and her audiences, I’m sure) can easily say that there nothing more tenacious than a Black woman with her mind set on a goal. As a Black female choreographer, I think she serves a perfect example of the physicality required both on and off stage to keep her vision alive while simultaneously working to include similar choreographers in success.

In today’s dance world, especially in America, the voices of Black female choreographers are some of the most necessary and yet they often go unheard. How do we fix this? Programs like Camille Brown’s Black Girl Spectrum and her recent initiative called The Gathering is proof of resilience in the dance community. Both the educational and community-driven aspects of Christal’s INSPIRIT company that seek to bolster the confidence and creative capacity of young black artists is another.

More can and should be done to promote Black female choreographers. Initiatives across the country are already tackling the issue, but I also feel like it’s the subtle (or perhaps, not so) images that will have as great an effect on the next generation of performers. The images of Black females teaching courses at well-known dance facilities, or being on faculty in dance departments across the country—the sight I witnessed as a beginning dancer at college, and that then lead me to feel as though hearing the voice of the Black female choreographer up front and center was not, in fact, an exception but instead could be the norm.”

It appears that the debate of the place of Black women in the dance world exists not only in the UK but on an international basis. Serendipity is always interacting with international artists and issues to unite the dance community and encourage change within the arts!

What is the circumstance for Black female choreographers/dancers where you are? Drop me an email and let me know! jessica@serendipity-uk.com