SMU Meadows School of the Arts is in the midst of the dance division’s Fall Dance Concert. The performance, from Oct. 24 to Oct. 28 in the Bob Hope Theatre (Owen Arts Center), showcases the Dance Division’s BFA dance performance majors in three pieces around the theme “Celebrating Women’s Voices.”
For Shelley C. Berg, the Artistic Director of the concert and an SMU faculty member, “‘Celebrating Women’s Voices’ is a realization of multiple perspectives of female empowerment through choreographic and performance embodiment… each piece is part of the kaleidoscope of female identity that we hope is now recognized as significant and enlightened in society.”
“Celebrating Women’s Voices” features only women choreographers: Cherylyn Lavagnino, Bridget L. Moore and Brandi Coleman. The unique voices and styles of each work contribute to a performance that Berg feels is “intriguing, thoughtful, imaginative, scintillating [and] powerful.”
The first piece of the concert is “Seize en Jeu,” by Cherylyn Lavagnino. Lavagnino served at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and her award-winning choreography has been performed all over the world. “Seize en Jeu,” a recreation of the 2013 ballet “Treize en Jeu,” uses 17 dancers to create a mosaic of complex formations that reflect the complex music. Berg describes “Seize en Jeu” as “a reimagining of how ballet can portray strength as well as elegance through the technique.”
The second piece, “Simply, Eartha,” is choreographed by Bridget L. Moore. Moore is the Founder and Artistic Director of B. Moore Dance. The Dallas native has experience as Artistic Director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, faculty member at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and visiting professor at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea.
Moore’s “Simply, Eartha” is inspired by and dedicated to the legacy of Eartha Kitt. The piece reflects Eartha’s sophisticated intention through dancing, music, video and costuming. Berg feels that Bridget L. Moore created “a tribute that reflects her vision of Eartha Kitt’s multiple contributions as an artist and a woman who lived life on her own, very personal terms.”
The final piece, “And One More Thing…,” features a rowdy and groovy group of women dancing choreography by Brandi Coleman. Coleman is the Artist in Residence in Jazz Dance at SMU and is the associate artistic director of the Emmy Award Winning Jump Rhythm® Jazz Project. Created by Billy Siegenfeld, the technique focuses on energy-driven, rhythm-generated vocalizations with a support system of movement.
On describing the Jump Rhythm technique, Coleman explained the “vocalizations alone are confident, straightforward and direct… they are percussive, loud and a form of controlled chaos.” Coleman wants her dancers “to be unapologetic in their physical rowdiness and to not be afraid to sound impolite.”
“And One More Thing…” reveals an alternative way for women to occupy space, and Coleman hopes the audiences and dancers alike will “reconsider what it means to look and sound feminine.”
Throughout the rehearsal process, Coleman and her cast often had discussions about the intentions behind the movement and the emotional integrity that women portray. She encouraged the dancers to channel their emotions into the movement. “Anger, frustration, joy, pleasure, sadness… [the dancers must] reflect inwardly to express outwardly.”
Coleman stressed that “each individual dancer’s voice is important because the voice is uniquely their own. The community is rhythm, and the individual is the way that the vocalizations sound as the dancers sing.”
The theme of the concert could not be more appropriate, as Berg stated “Brandi’s piece vividly demonstrates that now, here, women need to be heard, need to be respected and must now fully command the stage and performance and in the diverse cultures in which they live and work… This is one of the concerts I am proudest of and I am honored and privileged to be the Artistic Director.”
Coleman agreed, stating she is “honored to be one of three women choreographers… All the pieces are different; what makes it special is that we all have something to say.”
Berg urged everyone to “come see this extraordinary, joyful incarnation of multiple images of women,” for “both the dancers and their audiences will recognize some of the many ways women reflect on, speak to and perform their identities – that we are insightful, hopeful, determined, indomitable, inscrutable and brave.”
The SMU Dance Division’s Fall Dance Concert will take place Wednesday, Oct. 24 through Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 28 at 2:00 p.m. at the Bob Hope Theatre. Ticket prices range from $8 for students, $11 for seniors, to $14 for adults. For more information call 214.768.2787.