Womanhood is a topic that has inspired art throughout all recorded history. But until recently, women were almost always depicted by men. Not so anymore, and the all-female cast behind SHE explores the female condition in an extremely organic way — through the body itself, in this contemplative dance piece.
SHE, directed by Verena Lucia Anders, incorporates classical ballet/jazz lines mixed with curving slopes and stiffness that seemed more contemporary. The cast of five women danced to techno, Afro-Caribbean drum beats, and the soulful sounds of live musicians. The dance pieces were accompanied by several philosophical poems about being female from Paige Hernandez, whose work was highly rhythmic and emotional.
The dances were elegantly feminine, yet delightfully powerful. Expressive eye contacts combined with striking tableaux were used often, for a very theatrical event. Whitney Chase stood out for her solos, as did Kutia Juwara. The whole cast got creative in “Work,” a piece that featured stereotypically feminine props like a baby doll or a broom.
One factor that dulled the pace was the long scene changes, leaving the audience in the dark for quite awhile. Technical support, however, was excellent, including an attractive lighting design that made use of shadow and vibrant blue hues.
The music was a welcome mix, and singer Shalanda Bond-Hansboro blended well with musician Benjamin Starr. The two underscored the dancers with shared harmonies and Bond-Hansboro’s smooth vocals.
Combining the body with thoughts and emotions is never an easy task. But the comprehensive performance by Shange Dance Productions rose up, expressing themselves in terms of their gender. SHE is a thought-provoking piece, and definitely worth a look.
SHE has 4 more performances at The Apothecary, 1013 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC.
Julia rates this a 4, out of a possible top rating of 5.
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