Even in this age of gender equality, the modern woman is a conundrum of sorts. In addition to her roles as a mother, a sister, a friend and a lover, women often finds themselves trying to strike a balance between the strong qualities perceived as masculine,and the loving, compassionate seen as feminine. Given such constraints, today’s women must simply take life one step at a time. In the Black Movements Dance Theatre’s portrayal of the modern woman, “Fire in Her Eyes,” she glides across the stage in the form of dancers telling one story: her story.

Established in 1981, Black Movements Dance Theatreuses different styles of dance — jazz, hip-hop, modern and Afro-jazz — as a way of sparking interesting conversations about important contemporary social issues. Each year, the group stages two shows, one in the fall semester and another in the spring semester.

“[The show] celebrates the triumph that is becoming a woman in this day and age,” said Co-Director Princess Fuller (SFS ’13). Featuring eight different pieces, the show opens this weekend in the Walsh Black Box.
While the show is full of pieces that are emotionally complex, some are light-hearted. They’re meant to showcase the modern woman’s ability to just let go and have fun, even when she’s faced with tough obstacles. One piece in particular, entitled “Breezzin’” and choreographed by guest choreographer Adrian James, features a dance battle between two dance crews, one ballet and one jazz. By the end of the piece, the purity of dance shines through, along with its ability to lift us out of our everyday experiences.

The show weaves dance, art and poetry together to tell a story.

A spoken word piece, “4 Dresses”, performed and written by Vivian Ojo (SFS ’14), showcases a black woman struggling to fit the predesigned molds made for her. By the end of the piece, she triumphantly breaks free of those molds and embraces her own identity. The original purpose of BMDT is evident in this piece, as it is thoughtfully choreographed and perfectly executed.

“Fire in Her Eyes” is more than a dance showcase. It is a theatrical performance in which dance and the spoken word are tools that help to construct the grand story of the modern woman. I was lucky enough to watch the evolution of this creative process at a rehearsal. The dancers worked and reworked pieces, continuously molding themselves according to the suggestions given by the choreographers and the artistic director, Alfreda Davis. They were constantly reminded by James that they each needed to “… have a character [and have] a relationship that carries through the whole piece.” Beyond dance technique, the dancers’ ability to identify with the story of the modern woman will ultimately give the show its meaning.

“Fire In Her Eyes” will be performed this Friday and Saturday in the Walsh Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for students.

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