Gamal Brown – AAAS Community Extension Center Community Arts Fellow (2019)


As a native of Columbus, Gamal Brown embodies what it means to be a dancer and choreographer. His performance and leadership abilities have afforded him performance opportunities as well as choreographic mentor ship. As a dancer, Gamal trained at Wright State University and Jeraldyne’s School of the Dance, and  has toured West Africa to study Senegalese dance with dance masters from the National Ballet du Senegal. His studies have also taken him to Washington, D.C., to develop his technique through dance workshops with Kankouran West African Dance Company under Assane Kounta and Dom Gueye. He has studied with Mari Bass-Wiles, artistic director/founder of Maimouna Kieta School of West African Dance in Brooklyn, NY, and participated in a summer intensive program under the direction of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, artistic director/founder of Urban Bush Women in Brooklyn, NY. He was a guest artist with Youth Met (Ballet Met Outreach Program) and has also collaborated with Lee Edwards.

As a choreographer, his work challenges audiences to rethink the social, political and cultural significance of dance. He has been commissioned by Judah Performing Arts Company to create a work for women’s suffrage titled Stand (2010) paying homage to matriarchs of the black family culture. He has choreographed, Mo’s Lament (2012), a haunting testament of a dear friend’s ongoing trials of life, and has written a choreo-poem, The Colored Section (2012), a realistic view of some of the worst atrocities of human kind; lynching and segregation. While partnering with a local dance studio, he co-founded, OYO Dance Company, and wrote, directed, and co-choreographed the first production, 6 + 1: Seven Deadly Sins (2016).

As an independent artist, he has built a production house, Onyx Productions, and produced ROHO: Spirit (2017), 8 individual ballets that provided the timeline for his dance biography. In 2018, he directed a choreo-poem, Inside the Riot (2018), a collection of writers works officiated by the Maroon Arts Group, a non-profit social justice advocacy organization. He was awarded the 2018 and 2019 Columbus Dances Fellowship sponsored by Columbus Dance Theater and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

Gamal has recently been commissioned to create a production for the King Arts Complex in commemoration of the 400 years since the first documented arrival of enslaved Africans who came to English America. The show is named, 20 & Odd, the recorded number of captured on the ships manifest.

As the AAASCEC Community Arts Fellow, Gamal’s project examines the importation of Africans and slavery as an immensely dense commercial operation that resulted in millions of lives lost. His project explores the journey across the Atlantic using several artistic mediums; music, theater, dance, quilting, and poetry, all offering the community a chance to activate artistic expression as means of illuminating the psychological trauma during the trans-Atlantic transport.

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