Powerful, thought-provoking, and memorable. These words come to mind when describing Black Movements Dance Theater’s performance of This Woman’s Work. It is an amazing collection of dances and spoken-word that are visually exciting and unforgettable. Paying tribute to women, their progression through time, and their roles of today, it reminds audiences of the struggles women have suffered through and continue to suffer today, while also acknowledging women’s ability to overcome their struggles and remain the mothers, wives, and caregivers we appreciate. It includes eight BMDT-performed pieces choreographed from the company’s own students and from well-known artists of Broadway and Alvin Ailey, and one piece from a local performance group. Therefore, This Woman’s Work gives variety on many levels, not only in artistry, but in interpretations and emotions.
The four BMDT student choreographed pieces range in style, from lyrical, modern, and even some hip hop flare. “Parameters,” choreographed by Lena Al-Marzoog (Senior, MSB), is danced with sharp, edgy movements, and with a tension of fear and pain. According to Lena, this fear is to remind people that even in the present day the security that women claim to have is still vulnerable; that we can all be naïve to reality of women’s position in the world. This is something that cannot be forgotten for women are still attacked with discrimination and disrespect just for their sex. In opposition, there is a piece called “Stronger than the Ribbon,” choreographed by Courtney Hodge (Senior, COL), which displays the battle many women undergo when fighting against breast cancer. Having the experience of her mother diagnosed with cancer, Courtney depicts the struggle when women have to face such dangerous and unpredictable circumstances. However, Courtney’s message in the end is that women are strong and fearless, giving them the power to “be stronger than the ribbon” and the ability to face any situation with courage. Stefanie Palencia’s (Junior, COL) piece combines the fluidity of contemporary dance with the angular movements of hip hop, making the dance original, interesting, and fitting of its name–“Dimensions.” And last, but not least, Vivian Ojo (Senior, SFS) presents her own poem, which gives a journey of women through different eras and of different backgrounds, but all of them are fighting their own battles. In “Four Dresses,” each woman described is then interpreted through dancers, so not only do the words resonate within you, but also the images. But not only are all of these pieces beautifully crafted, they are also confidently performed by the BMDT dancers. Each dancer’s talent of performance is shown through these dances and will most definitely stir emotions.
Along with the BMDT student choreographed dances, three pieces were also choreographed by three world-renowned choreographers: Kevin Iega Jeff, Christopher Huggins, and Ralph Glenmore. Kevin Iega Jeff has studied both at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and the Julliard School, and he currently works in Chicago as Artistic Director of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. Christopher Huggins was a choreographer and former soloist of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and now travels the world choreographing pieces for various dance companies. Ralph Glenmore is also a graduate of the Julliard School and former member of Alvin Ailey, and now works at American University as a professor of Jazz Dance. All of these artists have received numerous awards for their creativity and are recognized for their many contributions to dance, so there is now doubt that their works in this performance will be brilliant!
All in all, the directors, choreographers, dancers, and organizers of Black Movements Dance Theater’s This Woman’s Work are all very excited to debut this work to the public. According to BMDT’s Publicity Director, Bernadette Nelson (Senior, SFS), each dance is meant to be relatable and personal, being that women impact everyone’s lives. These dances are to inspire people to recognize that women are vital, women are fighters, women are providers, and women cannot be considered the minorities of the world. Women play different roles every day, going from student, worker, leader, mother, sister, wife, and so on, but often in today’s age we can forget that there are still underlying challenges that women tackle with. And from Jaclyn Markowitz’s (Senior, SFS) own view, this dance is a gift to the audience; for them to find meaning and apply it to reality. Thus, from each dance, people can find certain aspects as victories or others as continuing struggles for women and learn lessons through these stories. Therefore, this performance is definitely worthwhile, not only for the dances, but also for the their messages.
This Woman’s Work will be performed this weekend on both Friday, February 7th at 8pm and Saturday, February 8th at 8pm in the Davis Performing Arts Center Gonda Theater on Georgetown University’s campus. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for students. You may visit performingarts.georgetown.edu to reserve tickets.
Patricia Stupp, Fashion Writer
Images provided by BMDT