The Beverly Brown papers document the career of Beverly Brown, dancer, choreographer, teacher, and writer. Although materials include correspondence, photographs, diary entries, choreographic and general notes, the bulk of this collection covers Beverly Brown's professional life from her years beginning in 1966 as a student and later principal dancer with Erick Hawkins to teacher in his company, researcher and writer reflecting on her career and experiences. This collection contains professional correspondence, programs, scores, photographs, clippings, video logs, journals/notebooks featuring choreography notes and diary entries as well as original manuscripts. A significant portion of this collection consists of material relating to Brown's own choreography and Erick Hawkins teachings and body of work. Browns personal observations and criticism of the Erick Hawkins Dance Company performances in addition to other dance companies are highlights of this collection.
Beverly Brown (ca. 1941-2002) was born in Effingham, Ill., reared in Venezuelan oil camps and in Arizona. She graduated from Carlton College in Minnesota and then went to New York to study dance professionally. A longtime resident of Manhattan, she moved to Kansas City two months before her death. A modern dance choreographer and lead performer with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, she danced with Hawkins from 1967 to 1974. While performing as a soloist with the Hawkins Dance Company, Brown founded The Greenhouse Dance Ensemble in 1972 with five of her colleagues. Developing a fusion of dance and vocal sound textures, she became the founder and artistic director of the Beverly Brown Dancensemble Theatre for Bodies and Voices in 1976. Brown taught and choreographed for a variety of student groups in professional, educational and community settings. Brown's teacher, mentor, and greatest influence, Erick Hawkins (1909-1994), was known as one of the revolutionary pioneers of radical modern dance through his original choreography and evolution of a new theory and technique of modern dance. One of his most beautiful works was entitled Early Floating. In her writings Brown explored this piece and other Hawkins ballets. His style was a strong and commanding one and he believed that movement could be beautiful and enjoyable for its own sake - movement not bound but free and flowing, creating certain aesthetics only found in the Hawkins Technique. This inspired Brown in her own work as a choreographer where movement was organic and natural, building on Hawkins belief of letting the movement take the body through three dimensional space. Brown taught dance at such institutions as Colorado University at Boulder and the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her interest in the sacred and spiritual roots of dance led to research as well as her master's degree where she explored and wrote extensively about Christian based dance experiences. A long-standing interest in the deserts and cultures of the American Southwest was fostered by her four years of high school at Verde Valley School in Sedona, Arizona and led to the essay From Where I Stand featured in her high school yearbook. Her artistic apprenticeship with Erick Hawkins nurtured her interest in the Southwest because Hawkins' own work had been thematically influenced by his early years in the Southwest. Desert Series was originally inspired by the writings of Barry Lopez's book Desert Notes. Their correspondence is a feature of the collection. Her research for Desert Series included library study, consultation, visits to Native American dance events and collaborative efforts with dancers during her Cross-Cultural Dance Resource Center (CCDR) residency in Arizona, where Brown gave workshops and lecture-demonstrations. Her research into Native American mythology, while there, led her to create a video dance, The Seed Keeper. As a chorographer, dancer and master teacher, Brown presented her work in NYC. Starting in the 1970's Dancensemble toured the eastern United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, participated in the Riverside Dance Festival in New York and the American Dance Festival in New London, Connecticut. Brown taught extensively as a visiting choreographer in colleges and university dance programs around the United States, had works in the repertory of the Concert Dance Company of Boston and Nova Dance Theatre of Halifax, Nova Scotia. She taught and performed at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge and during her residency at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.