black social dance

Choreographer Camille A. Brown Explores the History of Black Social Dances

"African American social dances remain an affirmation of identity and independence"

by Britni Danielle, September 28, 2016

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black social dance

TED-ed

There’s no denying that dance is an integral part of the Black experience that ties people of African descent together across the diaspora. With that in mind, TED Fellow, educator, and choreographer Camille A. Brown decided to explore why we love to dance–whether we’re actually good at it or not.

According to Brown, “Dance is a language, and social dance is an expression to emerge from a community. A social dance isn’t choreographed by any one person. It can’t be traced to one moment. Each dance has steps that everyone can agree on, but it’s about the individual and their creative identity.”

Brown, and award-winning performer, has had her work commissioned by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco!, Complexions, and Urban Bush Women. She’s also choreographed for several theater productions, including Streetcar Named Desire, Fortress of Solitude, Stagger Lee, Katori Hall’s BLOOD QUILT, and Jonathan Larson’s tick, tick…BOOM!

Brown, who also runs her own dance company, partnered with TED to teach a lesson on the history of African American social dance.

Here’s the description from the TED-ed site:

“African-American social dances started as a way for enslaved Africans to keep cultural traditions alive and retain a sense of inner freedom. They remain an affirmation of identity and independence.”

Ready to get up to speed on the history of Black social dances? Take a look at Brown, and a crew of dancers, show off their moves.


Britni Danielle is EBONY’s Entertainment/Culture Director. Follow her on Twitter @BritniDWrites.

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