BWW Reviews: Camile A Brown & Dancers' 'Mr. TOL E. RAncE' at Kumble Theatre

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Creating an artistic work that can be controversial - where smiles and laughter do not always reflect joy and happiness; criticism and conflict do not always represent anger and shame--cannot be an easy task. Camille Brown and dancers in Mr. TOL E. RAncE successfully did just that at the Kumble Theater at Long Island University n Brooklyn. Despite technical difficulties that made the show start almost an hour behind schedule, the multimedia theatrical work explored issues surrounding minstrelsy, its shadow in modern society, and tolerance. A very creatively developed animated vignette opened the show, and throughout the performance presented an exciting and engaging backdrop. The performance was accompanied by pianist Scott Patterson, whose virtuosity was equally matched by the dancers in skills and commitment.

The hour-long work was presented seamlessly in two acts. Camille Brown's knowledge of dance history connectivity was on strong display as she effectively juxtaposed tap dancing and Lindy hop quickness into cabrioles and modern day hip-hop step. This was executed with a clear choice of puppet like expression or full joyous exuberance, while the dancers acted, sang and narrated. This cultural continuity was mirrored in the projections of pop culture television references.

Using dramatization, Brown explored modern day minstrelsy and tolerance in the perceived thug and video vixen culture. Though very clever and engaging, it fell short of the brilliance of Act 1, it at times seemed a bit didactic and predictable. However, with an audience filled with teenagers it somehow seemed appropriate.

Camille Brown showed a clear artistic vision that was well developed and thought provoking that even when there was a technical glitch during the work, the piece's statements were clear. Solo performances by Waldean Nelson and Camille Brown presented quiet moments of reflection that were necessary for an artistic work of this magnitude.

Photo: Dancer- Waldean Nelson




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Jermaine Rowe Jermaine Rowe?s theatre career started in high school in Jamaica, where as president of his performing arts lead the group to the Pan-African Festival in Ghana, West Africa, where they performed a show he co-created. He returned to Jamaica to become a principal dancer with the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica, and for his theatrical productions at the University of the West Indies dance and theatre departments, he was awarded the Prime Minster?s Youth Excellence Award, the nation?s most prestigious youth award. This was achieved while completing a BA in Broadcast Journalism and Education (Hon), at the same university.

He then moved to New York on a dance scholarship at the Alvin Ailey School. He went on to dance with the world-renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem. He moved to London to join the West End production of the Lion King as a dancer-singer swing and understudy performer, after which he was selected by Bill T. Jones to aid in the creative process of the first cast in the British National Theatre?s production of Fela!, where he was also an actor in the National Theatre Live?s international broadcast of the show. He then became the dance captain for the 1st US National tour of Fela! and its return to Broadway.

As a singer he has recorded with the BBC orchestra?s life broadcast of The Music of Disney at the Lyceum Theatre in London, as well as the Royal Variety Show for the royal family in London. He recently was a baritone in the Maritna Arroyo Foundation?s Prelude to a Performance, young opera singers? program in New York. An all-round performer Jermaine was a recently featured actor in Peter Cousins upcoming feature film Carry Me Home starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

Jermaine is an Associate Artist at New York Live Arts.



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