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For The First Time In More Than 65 Years, A Black woman Serves As Both Director And Choreographer On Broadway

Jeryl Brunner

In 1976, when New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow wrote about Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf, he described the piece as poems set to “inner music.”

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Director and choreographer Camille A. BrownJosefina Santos

When For Colored Girls returned to New York in 2019, it was just as poignant. That “inner music” remained. The piece, or choreopoem, from playwright/poet Shange is deeply honest and raw as it recounts the stories of seven Black women.

Using movement, songs and poetry, each woman tells her survival story. She shares what it is like to live in a sexist, racist and fractured world. This pioneering work continues to resonate. We witness humans and their pain, struggle, courage, passion, resilience, possibility and the desire for love.

Just today producers Nelle Nugent, Ron Simons and Kenneth Teaton announced that Camille A. Brown will direct the upcoming production of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf on Broadway in 2022.

Brown, who in 2019 choreographed the production of the play at The Public Theater off-Broadway, will continue in her role as choreographer on Broadway. In more than 65 years Brown is the first Black woman to serve as both director and choreographer on a Broadway production. It also marks Brown’s Broadway debut as a director.

“It’s an amazing feeling to bring this seminal show back to Broadway 45 years after it opened at the Booth Theatre on September 15, 1976,” said Brown who has received many awards including a Guggenheim Award, Bessie Award, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, Doris Duke Artist Award, United States Artists Award, Audelco Awards, Princess Grace Awards, and a New York City Center Award. “I look forward to diving into the divine Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem and celebrating her legacy.”

A prolific and visionary artist, Brown choreographed Once On This Island and Choir Boy, for which she received a Tony nomination in 2019. She was the first Black female choreographer to receive this honor in more than two decades. Brown is also known for her work on Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, the Oscar nominated Netflix film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Metropolitan Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess. She is the founder and artistic director of the award-winning dance company Camille A. Brown and Dancers.

“It is an honor to help usher the return of Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking work to Broadway under the direction and choreography of Camille A. Brown, who is herself blazing a new path on Broadway as the first Black woman in more than 65 years taking on this dual role,” said producer Ron Simons. “I am quite confident that the ancestors and Ntozake’s spirit are lifted.”

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New York based journalist who has written for Forbes, Parade, InStyle, National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and The Wall Street Journal. Author of the book "My City, My New York, Famous New Yorkers Share Their Favorite Places" and podcaster, ("When Lightning Strikes"). I cover the arts, theater, entertainment, food, travel and people who are motivated by their joy and passion.

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