Loose Change Dance Collective rehearsing "Promise" for "She Said."
At this #MeToo moment in time, “She Said” hit all the right notes.
A creation of the Loose Change Dance Collective, the evening-length piece presented at Proctors on Friday and Saturday staked out who women are, what their smiles conceal and why this movement is vital to empowering them beyond their domestic domains.
In a conglomeration of films, monologues and short dances, the work, directed by Laurie Zabele Cawley, exposed who “she” really is – a life giver, care giver whose thoughts and needs often go unnoticed. She’s a lover, a mother, a hunter, an artist, a victim of rape, a mourner, a bisexual, and generally, not what her mere exterior reveals.
As a dance critic, I went to be inspired by physical, not political movement. And not all of the dances spoke to me. But it didn’t matter because as a whole the piece resonated – and not just because I am a woman. A man sitting next to me wiped a tear from his eye at the final curtain.
“She Said” got its start through a 21st century community – social media – on which a questionnaire was distributed to women anonymously. The 70 answers made up the thoughts and stories that were told in “She Said.”
It began with a film in which the work's dancers and actors were asked to finish this sentence, “I am ….” It was difficult for some to answer because many women are reluctant to talk about themselves. And dancers talk about themselves even less. But one thing these women had in common was an acknowledgement that being a woman was difficult, but it was also a role they took pride in.
The first dance, “Surrender,” featured Rachel Johnson and Deb Rutledge in a piece that underscored women's constant pressure to align with the needs of others. With their arms reaching to the sky and facing the same way, the duo constantly circled. When they briefly stood still facing in different directions, one would gently tap the other so that she could return to proper formation. To Jennifer Koh’s “Dissolve, Oh My Heart,” played live by violinist Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz, the piece spoke of what women do, regardless of their penchant, to keep peace and their world running smoothly, while hopefully, standing faithfully together.
I preferred “Viral Velocity,” a work for 11, in which the women soared and spun in lines across the stage. My eye went straight to Joan Anderson who is a fleet and beautifully sculpted dancer. It’s unfortunate she only appeared in this one piece as she captivated.
“Promise” had the ensemble, which included women of all ages, wearing gowns and sitting in chairs as if waiting for an offer to dance. To the Disney song, “Someday My Prince Will Come,” it emphasized how women are often defined as physical adornments for men and not as a person who breathes underneath satin and silk.
The evening ended with all of the women on stage with a raised hand in a symbolic pledge and pronouncement of mutual support. In the future, they will be heard.