“I am a woman, phenomenally.” Groove Dance Company concluded its spring showcase “The Future Is Female” with Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” on March 31.
The all-female production, led by Groove President Allison Bradshaw ’19 and Artistic Director Tasha Boyer ’19, embodied feminine strength through its use of empowering music and bold choreography. The group danced to both music and spoken word poetry, beginning with Petit Biscuit’s “You” and closing with a mix of Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman,” Dianne Reeves’ “Endangered Species” and Beyoncé’s “Grown Woman.” The diversity of the choreography paralleled the diversity of the music, covering lyrical, jazz and contemporary styles.
“It just so happens that over the past three years, we’ve been an all-women’s group,” Bradshaw said about the show’s theme. “We’ve done a throwback theme and a fire theme, and this year we wanted something a little bit more meaningful. Something about our relationship with each other as an all-women’s group, the way it has become a part of our identity … It was something we really wanted to express.”
The theme held up as a motif throughout the entire show. At different moments in the show, the group asked the crowd to respond “feminism” to their call of “intersectional.” Additionally, a portion of the show’s proceeds will be donated to a local women’s shelter.
“We thought about giving the money to a larger organization like #MeToo or Planned Parenthood, but we really wanted to do something that would allow us to give back to the local community,” Bradshaw said.
The organization to which Groove is donating provides food, clothing, amenities, toiletries and baby items to women living in New Haven.
The dances themselves symbolized the artistic grace of womanhood, with the lights emphasizing their movements with shadow and darkness. A screen behind the dancers would change based on the mood of the music: a lighter pink shade accompanied a ballet that came with smiling faces and floral skirts, and a sensuous red accompanied a hip-hop piece with fierce expressions. The different illusions and the different forms of dance encapsulated the theme that being a woman can mean many things.
“Being a woman at Yale, being a woman in Groove, just means looking out for one another and respecting one another and being able to appreciate another’s form of artistic expression,” Boyer said.
Each dance contributed to the overall message that a woman can do anything and that she can be anything. This message resonates through Kehlani’s “Intro” and Cardi B’s parts in “Finesse (Remix)” by Bruno Mars. The different styles also represented the diversity of the women in the group.
“For me, being a woman in dance is very special because a lot of the kind of styles I prefer are very powerful female styles like sexy dancing,” Cosette Davis ’21 said. “A lot of people think that sexier dance styles are done for men, like a woman is trying to be attractive to a man, but I think it’s fun to show that you could also be sexy for yourself.”
In “Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens, Groove represented the other side of womanhood. In this piece, the group captured the idea that in addition to being powerful individuals, women are also great companions. The contemporary dance performed with this song illustrated the dependency of one girl on another. Dancers held each other and moved between positions in the arms of their partners. And for “Bust Your Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan, the dancers performed in pairs in a more formal dance, one typically performed by a man and a woman.
“The Future Is Female” marked the group’s second and final showcase of the academic year.
Razan Sulieman | firstname.lastname@example.org