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Camille A. Brown thrilled about Tony Award nomination for choreography

Director, choreographer and dancer Camille A. Brown received her 4th Tony Award nomination earlier this year, her third for Best Choreography for her work on the musical ‘Hell’s Kitchen’
Tony-nominated choreographer Camille A. Brown at Tony Awards (Photo by Derrel Johnson for rolling out)

Director, choreographer and dancer Camille A. Brown received her fourth Tony Award nomination earlier this year, her third for Best Choreography for her work on the musical Hell’s Kitchen. Brown discussed the nomination, working with the talented cast, and her inspirations.

“This is my fifth Broadway show, but the first time that I have worked with a dance ensemble, and I grew up on musical theater,” she said. “For me to have the opportunity to represent New York City where I’m born and raised, and to put everything that I know and love about the city on a stage, and then for that to be acknowledged, it feels so wonderful and amazing.”

Brown had high praise for Maleah Joi Moon, who received a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. “What an amazing person and talent and she always came in open and ready to play and had so much openness to try things,” she said. ”It was wonderful to work with her in the space and she just immediately immersed herself inside of the energy of the dancers. There was a ping-pong of energy between her and the dancers, and she wasn’t afraid. It’s that fearlessness that was so great to have in the space.”

Brown, who will be working with Tony winners Audra McDonald and George C. Wolfe this fall on the revival of Gypsy, talked about some of the artists who have inspired her. “As a dancer, I was inspired by Ella Fitzgerald, the jazz singer and it’s because of her range and the height she can go just as low and the spectrum of her virtuosity and how she moved with such clarity and articulation in her voice,” she expressed. “That’s what I tried to align with as a dancer. As a choreographer, I was inspired by Katherine Dunham, Peter Gennaro. I was inspired by them, but I also knew that it was important for me to lead with my own voice.”

Brown hopes to have the same range in her career as one of her idols, the multitalented Debbie Allen.  “She was just like everything to me and the way she has expanded her career from dancer to choreographer to director, director for television, producer, director for film and TV, her career made me see that like, wow, it is possible. So that is how I am looking at it. All of the possibilities. There is no box.”

“It was always hard for me to express myself vocally,” she said about being teased for having a small voice, “but dance was a way for me to have a safe space and it gives me an opportunity as a dancer to express myself, as a director, as a choreographer,” she expressed. “It gives me the opportunity to tell stories my way and how I see things and that’s exciting to me. It’s definitely scary, but it’s also tremendously thrilling and liberating. So that’s why I am continuing to pursue a career directing and choreographing.”

The 77th annual Tony Awards will air Sunday, June 16.

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