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Tribute's got to be funky

July 01, 2007|Lewis Segal

SHORTLY before his death in December, rock icon James Brown reportedly agreed to appear as a guest in a dance musical created as a tribute to him by local choreographers Frit and Frat Fuller.

This long-delayed project, "Down Around Brown Town," is finally scheduled to premiere Thursday at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center -- without Brown, obviously, but with the James Brown Band, actor-singer Dorian Harewood, and singers Frank Lawson and Amanda Zuckerman as special guests.

The Fuller brothers (a dance team since childhood) teach jazz, hip-hop and dance composition at Cal State L.A. and staged one section of the Brown piece there in May 2006, using their Kin Dance Company and student dancers. For the four-performance engagement beginning Thursday, the normally all-male Kin ensemble will incorporate women and grow to 14 members.

Frit Fuller (the elder by six minutes) describes the piece as having "a stylized Broadway feel to it." But there's no plot. "Each song will have its own story," Frat says.

Known as the Godfather of Soul, Brown was nearly as famous for his wild dance moves as for his singing, but the Fullers insist their choreography will be wholly original.

"We don't try to match anything," Frit declares.

-- Lewis Segal

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