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Work Samples

Visceral (Heroes and Villains)

Our society is currently challenged to consider how violence has become the de facto response to the unknown, and how that fact is contributing to the systematic oppression of people we call neighbors and fellow citizens. Visceral, the first movement of a series of vignettes entitled Heroes and Villains, deals with the experience of discrimination,and the question of what path we might take to change. Breai Mason-Campbell directed, and performs in this piece.

Dancing White (Compilation)

From generation to generation, Dancing White chronicles the interaction between blacks and whites in this country, as we together built what it means to be American. At a time in history when concerns about race relations in America have returned to a central position in the public sphere, Dancing White is an examination of our cultural norms through the lens of dance. Breai Mason-Campbell directed, and performs in this piece.

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About Breai

Baltimore City

Breai Mason-Campbell is a Baltimore native, dancer, teacher, community activist, and cultural counselor. A Harvard graduate, Breai’s Master’s Thesis explored the role of Hip-Hop as a religious and moral touchstone for African American youth. In 2001, she was selected as a contributor to the Boston Healing Landscapes project with Boston University School of Medicine where she conducted research into the connection between mental health in young women and exposure to the norms espoused by popular culture... more

Heroes and Villains

Designed and directed by Breai Mason-Campbell, this piece recommends actions to address the crises of racial tensions in Baltimore and beyond. Through movement, she suggests that by challenging our visceral reactions to people's differences, being vulnerable before one another, and developing a vision of how we can work and live together, we can overcome the challenges of our time. In three vignettes, illustrate the possibilities of this process.

The first movement of Heroes and Villains, Visceral deals with the how we are each seen in the world, and the role that plays in our quality of life. The audience is challenged to ask the hard questions that challenge our assumptions, and, further, to commit to remain present for the sometimes harder answers. The dancers begin in a privilege line, making visible the structural inequities which sometimes obscure the root causes of social ills. Through solo performance, partner dance, mirroring and contrast, the story of each character is communicated through movement. In the development of this piece, the dancers discussed the ways in which we feel empowered or disempowered in our daily lives, and collaboratively constructed choreography to illustrate that narrative.

The second movement, Vulnerability, is designed to evoke deep emotion, and deals with the questions each of us have about our role in change, and our complicity in the problems we now face in our society. In the wake of staggering numbers of murders in Baltimore, questions of police brutality, and omnipresent, de-facto segregation, often based on fear or the desire for safety, slowing down snap decisions and revealing the depth of individual lives is our task in this work. Mason-Campbell completed this work with an intentionally cross-cultural ensemble, which discussed the pain each member experienced in this cycle of violence, and hopes for change. The choreography tells that story.

The last movement of this piece deals with Vision​, the third of a three-tiered, arts-based, community development methodology that Mason-Campbell upholds thorough practice, performance, and the passing on of folk dance traditions. The choreography considers the downfalls of conformity and assimilation as community ideals, and invites the silenced to speak.

  • Gaurdian-2833.jpg

    Baltimore, Violence, Community, African American art, dance, Guardian, Breai Mason-Campbell
    Director Breai Mason-Campbell grapples with our attitudes towards violence in the second movement of Heroes and Villains, "Vulnerability."
  • Heroes and Villains

    In this piece, Guardian recommends actions to address the crises of racial tensions in Baltimore and beyond. With this work, we suggest that by challenging our visceral reactions to people's differences, being vulnerable before one another, and developing a vision of how we can work and live together, we can overcome the challenges of our time. In three vignettes, the company illustrates the possibilities of this process.
  • Gaurdian-3201.jpg

    Heroes and Villains, Breai Mason-Campbell, Guardian, Dance, Baltimore, Vision, African American Art, Folk Art
    Director and choreographer Breai Mason-Campbell outlines a methodology for overcoming systemic oppression, steps to counter segregation, and a path toward healed relationships in the final movement of Heroes and Villains, "Vision."

Dancing White

This multi-media performance designed and directed by Breai Mason-Campbell chronicles the development of American dance and social culture from the perspective of the black body. Beginning in Africa, and making the trans-Atlantic trip through the slave trade, this narrative choreography seeks to understand how we see black bodies and why. Over the course of 6 Acts, and closer looks at as many generations, Dancing White reveals a cycle of appropriation which makes steps to change conceivable through the sheer repetition of the road to failure.

Act 1: Join, Or Die
...is a window into the impact of the African Slave Trade on the body, and its expression through dance.

Act 2: For Sale
...illustrates the divorce between consciousness, memory and movement.

Act 3: New Negro (Old America)
...raises questions about the limits to freedom imposed upon bodies depending on their hue.

Act 4: I AM A MAN!
...reclaims the freedom in the body.

Act 5: Explicit Content
...looks at the role market forces play in physical expression and, by extension, community culture.

Act 6: #BlackLivesMatter

...connects the dots of cultural appropriation to lay the groundwork for change, today and tomorrow.
  • Dancing White

    The dancing body is an archetype of freedom: primal, unencumbered, poetic. In the wake of a resurgence of international attention to ongoing racial tensions, from #BlackLivesMatter, to the campaign trail to the American election, Dancing White joins the conversation by asking whether such freedoms are available to all bodies, or only those of a certain hue?

Cultural Preservation: Lindy Hop

Lindy Hop is a cornerstone of African American cultural history which is in danger of extinction and in need of preservation. Although Lindy Hop was born in Harlem and grew up in the dance halls of the Renaissance period, various, structural forces, including the closing of Harlem ballrooms to send business to mid-town Manhattan, Jim Crow Laws which prevented the ownership of dance and music venues by African Americans, and a financial environment which preferred solo artists to big bands, drove many successful dancers and whole communities away from the art. It is radical, indeed, to present Lindy Hop with a black company, as a lack of education, and the absence of cultural continuity have moved its study and practice to a niche market.

Lindy was the official dance of the New Negro Movement: the redefining of what it meant to be black following the period of enslavement and Civil War in America. It was the physical embodiment of freedom. Named for Charles Lindbergh who defied expectations and gravity in his "hop" across the Atlantic, Lindy's airsteps, and frenzied renderings of jazz melodies express the unexpected and amazing power of a people up from oppression.

By practicing, performing and passing on Lindy Hop, Breai Mason-Campbell works to repair African American culture by building self-knowledge and self-respect. This piece features 3 junior dancers who are being mentored by Mason-Campbell, and is a part of a hand dance presentation- creating a family tree of origins for a people often denied the dignity of lineage.

  • Guardian's NMAAHC Performance

    Guardian was honored to perform for the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Based on the great works of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, who made swing dance famous at the 1939 World's Fair, Guardian presented a traditional, high-energy choreography, preserving a legacy that faces extinction in the African American community. Lindy Hop, born in Harlem and raised in its streets and ballrooms, has become the pride of Sweden, now renowned for the best teachers and dancers.

Self Knowledge=Self-Love

Working with youth is a part of Breai Mason-Campbell's commitment to equal rights to education. She believes that access to positive self-images and self-concepts to people as their identities are still forming is a road to decreased violence, and healthier communities. In the 2011-12 season, understanding the "African" element of what it means to be "African American" was a focal point of Mason-Campbell's work.

Through anecdotal inquiry and community conversations, opinions of Africa were found to be related primarily to poverty, sickness and ignorance. Mason-Campbell set out to investigate the beauty of Africa through movement with her students in Sandtown in order to rectify these assumptions and repair distorted identities. The music video attached is a tribute to the intersection of the past and the future present in the lives of black Americans.

  • Teach Me How To Kuku (Official Video 2011) by New Song Academy 1st Grade

    This music video is a remix of a popular song "Teach Me How to Dougie" revised to explore the connections between Africa and African Americans. Parents, community members and children in Sandtown were exposed to elements of African culture and invited to celebrate the presence of that rich history in their lives.

Desegregation through the Arts

As a part of Breai Mason-Campbell's work in Sandtown, this installment of an annual Community Movement initiative undertook a campaign to discuss the root causes of segregation in Baltimore, and proposed solutions to eradicate it. Through a study of Swing Dance, a social movement craze which challenged communities to cross racial lines, Mason-Campbell introduced students, parents, and community members to the concepts of civil rights, equality and integration.

This piece features student dancers from a predominately black, isolated community, yet the finale welcomes allies and those interested in repairing the damage done by separation to the stage to celebrate unity and possibility.

  • You Can't Stop The Beat (Community Movement)

    The ideals raised in American, public consciousness by the Civil Rights Movement remain the subject of our conversations today as we work to bridge the divide between disparate communities here in Baltimore and beyond. This Community Movement project invited white allies to work in Sandtown, Baltimore on the issue of desegregation and equal access to resources. Through dance, students express the possibilities of community, and the first steps on the road to change.

Dance for Social Change in Baltimore

Through dance performance, practice and instruction, Breai Mason-Campbell's work harnesses positive elements of culture at work in Baltimore's neighborhoods to strategically interrupt the cycles of violence which threaten the youth in our city and beyond. Her Community Art Methodology is aimed at providing participants and audiences with an opportunity to focus on positive elements of African American history and culture in order to build self-esteem, cooperative values, and collaboration skills. In the 2015-16 season, this work focused on the famed Apollo theater, and the role that the Arts has played in the advancement of African American ideals. This video is a compilation of student performances which were the outcome of this effort.

  • Apollo History

    Community members in the Sandtown/Winchester neighborhood were invited to consider the role of dance and the Arts in social change in this exploration of the Apollo Theater's place in the history of Harlem and the Great Migration.

North

The Great Migration of black Americans from the sharecropping South to the industrial North is a pivotal aspect of African American culture. To the soundtrack of Harlem Renaissance musicians, Jimmie Lunceford and Duke Ellington, from George C. Wolfe's Harlem Song, Guardian chronicles the tale of hopeful migrants, looking for freedom. Vernacular jazz movements and the world famous Lindy Hop are the mediums through which the tale is told.

Lindy Hop is often lauded for its important role in desegregation. Harlem's Savoy Ballroom opened its doors to dancers from beyond the boundaries of Harlem during Jazz's heyday, boasting the first integrated, public, social space in, perhaps, the world. This history is reflected by the make up of the company in this performance. Breai Mason-Campbell's commitment to bringing the Arts to communities without ready access to theaters, or performance experiences is met here, in a school gym in Sandtown.

North opens with a montage of images from the Great Migration, then erupts into a frenzy of celebratory, swing dance movements. The work ends with a Cakewalk- historically, a comedic portrayal of slave masters by enslaved Africans, here, a dig at the bourgeois culture of Harlem's upper crust.

  • North (Community Movement)

    This 2010 installment of Guardian's Community Movement series which brings dance performances to communities with limited access to the performing Arts, is an edutainment choreography which tells the story of the Great Migration of African Americans through movement.

Closer

Closer was designed by Breai Mason-Campbell to present folk Art with acumen and sophistication to the community from which those Arts emerged. "Street Art" is a term sometimes used to describe indigenous movement from urban areas, yet, this phraseology obscures the training, time and talent required to master such forms. The joy, levity and inspiration achieved by this piece is the outgrowth of a commitment to the preservation and performance of Folk Arts for the betterment of those who turn to them for solace and spiritual uplift.

Heritage was a key concern in the development of this piece, as some folk expression is seen as a product of fad rather than as key, cultural information which needs to be remembered and passed down. As jazz music maintains its place in the American canon as foundational, so must the vernacular, jazz dance which is its partner in order that the bodies who found liberation through those movements maintain access to freedom.

Pairing Locking and Popping with Lindy Hop and Jazz invites audiences to remember generationally as a building block to creating awareness of a legacy which extends beyond the present moment.

  • Closer (Community Movement)

    Locating Art in the community to which it is indigenous is one of Guardian's top priorities. Our Community Movement series is an annual undertaking designed to celebrate the contributions that black people have made to American culture for audiences who may not otherwise have access to Arts performances or education. Closer is a collage of vernacular traditions spanning the distance between the period of Reconstruction to the Millennium.

Connect with Breai

Breai's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.