2016-2017 Performance Series Choreographer: Raianna Brown

If you’ve ever driven down Southland Forest way on any given Saturday in the summer fourteen years ago, you would have seen two little girls in the middle of the driveway with a boom box attached to a long extension cord running all the way back inside of a house. One little girl would be saying “okay, let’s try from the beginning: 5, 6, 7, 8!” and they’d both dance their hearts out to the Missy Elliot CD playing from the boom box. Fast forward to the summer of 2015, Sorrento Italy, you will find that same little girl, a bit older and a lot wiser, in the studio in Sant’Agata with Staib Dance. She shouts, “Okay great job everyone, let’s try that again from the top, but this time make me feel something. Say something.”

Well, if you haven’t guessed yet, that little girl is me, Raianna Brown. A pretty fresh twenty-one-year-old, I often am struck by how young I am to be a professional and international choreographer. Sometimes I think I’m not experienced enough or qualified enough to be here; however after some reflection, I have come to realize that this is not the case. I have been choreographing since I was seven, or even before really, putting on
shows at my house, teaching choreography to my neighbors, my friends, and anyone who would listen. From a young age I’ve learned how to play within the music, and to move my body and other bodies through space to create something new. I still maintain the same excitement and curiosity my seven-year-old self had for all of the different possibilities in dance. I am very excited to premiere my new work with Dance Canvas as I continue to explore new territory with my choreography. I hope it evokes not only thought, but sincere and raw emotion. To me that is what’s most important; to move people with our art, it is a remarkable thing.

Advice for the next generation of choreographers:

  • Learn your process, define it, appreciate it
  • Learn what you like and/or don’t like to see in dances and thus become more familiar with your personal aesthetic.
  • Be patient with yourself, you are a learning and growing artist
  • Never forget what drives your movement (This will help you and your dancers connect to the audience on a deeper level because it will be coming form an honest and genuine place.)
  • Know your audience, but stay true to your artistry
  • Don’t be married to the movement, be married to the feeling because that is what people will remember


Thank you so much for reading Raianna’s story! We are extremely excited to see Ms. Brown’s vision come alive on stage next month! Don’t miss your chance to attend this year’s Performance Series: Introducing the Next Generation! Click here to purchase tickets!


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