My name is Christopher Lynn Brown, A.K.A. Christopher Eclipse.
What does your name mean?
Christopher means “he who bears light” or “Christ”. Topher is “to bare” and Christ is “Christ light” or “anointing”. Eclipse, is my spiritual name (it’s not a nickname), given to me by the community that I grew up in. It means “the balance of light and dark” and “a rare light”. Now you know what your name means if it is Christopher :)
Place of Birth/Hometown
I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Naptown” is what we call it. I grew up off of 46th and College on a street called Winthrop. Fun fact about Indy: Benjamin Banneker designed Indianapolis and Washington DC identically.
Current Place of Residence
I now live in LA, North Hollywood, to be exact. “Noho” (pun intended).
Cultural, Ethnic Background/Citizenship
I am of African American decent. My great, great grandma on my mom’s side, Ethel, was Blackfoot Indian/African. Her daughter was French, Blackfoot, and African, hence, my mother’s maiden name, Fuqua. My father side is made up of Cherokee and African. All African Americans got a lil’ Cherokee in ‘em…lol.
My time is currently split working with kids 4 days a week, teaching them the craft of choreographing. I work as an artistic director and a choreographer. I also teach around the world. Lastly, I serve where I am needed.
Who are your inspirations? What about their lives or characters have inspired you?
Busby Berkeley, Sammy Davis Jr., Michel Gondry, Chris Cunningham, Spike Jones, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Sylvester, Bjork, Bob Marley, Erykah Badu, André 3000, Amy Winehouse, fashion, music, The Nicholas Brothers, Josephine Baker, Kevin Jeff, Elana Anderson, any black person who was born or lived in America before the 70’s, MJ, Carmen McRae, Fosse, La Lupe, James Baldwin, many of my close friends in my life right now, and so many more — that’s a loaded question. I am inspired by visionaries, people who can see beyond their current situation. People whose creativity allows them to venture off into uncomfortable places and yet still seem level headed, or not. I think all the people I mentioned have taken the jump into true faith.
Who were your teachers and mentors? What did they teach you about your craft?
My mentors, or spiritual fathers, as I call them were Aten Danner, Kevin Iega Jeff, Gary Abbott, and the neighborhood I grew up in. Aten Danner was an artist whose murals could be seen all over America in urban areas, especially in Atlanta and Indianapolis. He was very significant in bringing social consciousness into our neighborhood while I was growing up. He took the time to teach me and several other youth in the neighborhood about who we were and what was going on in the world around us, making us very aware little children. We never took “yes” for a yes. We always investigated it. He was partially responsible for the name “Eclipse”. We studied theKemetic way of life and spirituality. They were the very first Africans before it was called Africa. They were called Kemitics and the land was called Kemit.
Kevin Jeff nurtured my dance soul. I was a dancer already before I met him. I came from street dance. Kevin, also a mentor that believed in the original African consciousness, is an artistic director out of New York hailing from Juilliard. His original company out of New York was Jubilation. Now, he has a company in Chicago named Deeply Rooted. He is a grandmaster professor and mover. All of his processes were through understanding dance from a spiritual perspective: oneness and also keeping the African consciousness and way of maintaining a village first. We did not adhere to Western standards of doing business, creative processes or socializing. It was a life-changing experience. The dances he choreographed very much tapped into the essence of what the black experience is and has been over the centuries. Gary Abbott, who comes from a similar background teaches within the Dunham genre. He worked as choreographer for the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble before co-directing with Kevin Jeff. Working with Gary really took my idea of what dancing was to another dimension. Gary used his body in techniques that were purely his own. That is what dancing is about, truly learning a technique and then allowing your spirit to transform the technique into something that tells your story.
What are you passionate about?
What do you see yourself doing even if you did not get paid for it?
Dancing, loving, and visioning.
How old were you when you started following your passion/training?
When I was born - its a lifelong process.
What did you train in/what workshops or classes did you take to help you get closer to your life’s passion?
I started on the streets of Indy, moved to Chicago to study at Columbia and Deeply Rooted, then LA to learn from “the Industry” and also broaden my horizons to other gifts that I have and continue to nurture.
What were some challenges/obstacles that you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?
In LA, I definitely had to get past my own understanding of fitting into a masculine/feminine paradigm. Coming from Chicago’s process, it was about getting to your truth and allowing that to manifest through your dance. However, it manifested. LA was different. It’s not so much about manifesting your truth through your work, but almost being able to embody whatever truth you’re asked to get to. It made me look at my sexuality/spirituality differently. LA was very surface in its approach to “getting jobs”. It was more about who you knew or hung with rather then your true technical experience. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s just a different approach and way of living thus leading me to have to choose my groups carefully, at first. If I wanted to do jobs that fulfilled a more masculine identity, I had to hang with certain groups and dress a certain way. If I wanted to do jobs that identified with a more feminine identity, I had to do the same. Although I was very comfortable in my skin and had done some self-reflection, I had not ever conceived that I would have to get jobs based on who I hung with. It would bring up conflict sometimes within myself. Sometimes, I felt that I had to choose between parts of my self and compartmentalize.
I had eventually got over that when I realized that the jobs that I had initially wanted weren’t as fulfilling as I had hoped and had nothing to do with my life purpose. The best thing for me to do was to create my own work that allowed enough space for all expression to flow through. When I found peace in that the doors began to open in LA and within myself. Hence, the people and jobs that I encountered became more a reflection of me and what I stood for. I hope to create work one day that will help to transform people.
What are some highlights and favorite memories that you’ve had in your career thus far?
Every moment in Chicago was a highlight. I met some of my dearest friends there. In LA, working with Jay-Z and Kanye was great. Doing creative direction on the T-Mobile commercial with Troy Kirby was pretty awesome. Completing my first full pieces of repertoire with my former dance company, UN-titled was an amazing experience. Every traveling experience has been a high whether it was to Wyoming or Japan. That’s a good question. I love every moment of my career thus far and I’ve had some real highs ;)
Who would you like to meet that inspires you in your field and why?
I’ve pretty much met them.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years? 5 years? Year?
Directing the Olympics.
What, in your opinion, is the secret to success?
Being truthful to yourself and following through.
What words of advice could you offer for others who would like to follow their own passion or a path similar to yours?
Take the jump when you find yourself being scared.
Who would you like to thank as individuals who have helped you to achieve your life’s passion?
My Mother. Everyone I’ve mentioned above. My very close spiritual extended family. You know who you are (too many to name), and my love, Joel.
What are some future projects that you have in-store in the near future?
Well, this summer I will be working in Sweden on a show. In Italy, France, Norway and possibly Spain, I will be teaching and building connections for future projects. I have 3 works in progress that I will be completing and a music project. I also want to complete a traveling webisode series.
How could people find out more about what you do?
Call me or ask Cheryl for my number, lol. hiphopdancetv.com
Who would you like to see featured on this blog and if possible, do you have their contact e-mails?
I would like to see Erykah Badu, Bjork and Grace Jones. Unfortunately, I don’t have their info, but I do have Grace Jones’ management’s info if you want to reach out.