New dance work inspired by Muhammad Ali
Staff Report | March 06,2013
MIDDLEBURY — Choreographer and Middlebury College dance faculty member Christal Brown will bring her dance company Inspirit to Middlebury College in March to premiere its new work, “The Opulence of Integrity.”
Inspired by the life and legend of Muhammad Ali, the performance incorporates elements of boxing, hip hop, martial arts, and modern dance, and an original sound score by Farai Malianga. Two public performances will be presented by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series on March 15 and 16, after a week-long residency of activities and master classes on campus.
“The Opulence of Integrity” is a four-movement, evening-length work inspired by Ali’s career as a boxer, and his life as a social activist, public martyr, and human being.
“The work deploys an eclectic movement vernacular to illustrate the turmoil of a life infused by divinity, yet misinterpreted by humanity,” Brown said.
The performance is also an exploration of the homogeneous inner struggle for identity as it pertains to men of color in the United States, with an intimate look at the trappings that continually prohibit freedom.
Brown dedicates the work “to her father, brother, and uncle — who fought but did not win — and to her own son, whose battle has not yet begun.
“To be born branded by history, burdened by responsibility, and inspired towards greatness requires a committed heart and an opulence of integrity.”
Inspirit Dance Company will offer residency activities throughout the week prior to the premiere, including two master classes and a public lecture-demonstration. First, company members will give a beginner-intermediate technique master class at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 12, followed by an intermediate-advanced master class at 2:50 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, both at the Mahaney Center for the Arts. (The master classes are free, but space is limited; participants should register by calling the dance program at 443-5245.)
Patrons can learn more about “The Opulence of Integrity” and Brown’s creative process at the free lecture-demonstration about the work at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at the Mahaney Center for the Arts. At the reception afterwards, Professor of Film and Media Culture Leger Grindon will sign copies of his book “Knockout: The Boxer and Boxing in American Cinema.”
Brown is a choreographer, educator, performer, writer, and activist, and is currently an assistant professor of dance at Middlebury College. She received her BFA in dance and minor in business from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Brown has toured domestically and internationally with companies such as the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and Urban Bush Women. Brown is also the founder and executive director of Inspirit, a performance ensemble and educational conglomerate dedicated to bringing female choreographers together to collaborate and show new work, expanding the views of women of all ages.
“The Opulence of Integrity” represents a departure from Inspirit’s usual milieu — it is Brown’s first foray into working with an all-male ensemble.
Middlebury College presents the Inspirit Dance Company in the premiere of Christal Brown’s “The Opulence of Integrity” at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, in the Dance Theatre of the Mahaney Center for the Arts. The Mahaney Center is located on the Middlebury College campus at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south. Tickets are $20, $15 for students; call 443-MIDD (6433), or go online to go.middlebury.edu/arts.