Founded 35 years ago, Black Movements Dance Theatre sought to celebrate the black experience at Georgetown University through dance. Now, in its 2019 season, BMDT will present a fall showcase Dec. 7 at the Devine Theatre in the Davis Center of Performing Arts, displaying a diverse repertoire of modern, jazz, ballet, African and lyrical dance.
This showcase, titled “Legends, Leaders, and Warriors,” is dedicated to the figures who have wielded great influence and inspiration in their lifetimes in the artistic community, political sphere and beyond. Artistic Director and Georgetown faculty member Alfreda Davis leads this talented company of 17 dancers, alongside Student Director Aliyah Williams (SFS ’20) and Assistant Co-Directors Mariah Johnson (COL ’21) and Kiara Finlay (COL ’22).
The concept of legendary individuals has shaped the creative process of the showcase. Since the beginning, the company engaged in conversations on how legends even form, according to Williams.
“Legends aren’t necessarily big name people,” Williams said. “But those who do good for themselves and for others.”
Guided by this sentiment, this showcase pays tribute to legends both admired worldwide as well as those whose lesser-known legacy remains recognized within their community and relationships.
Individual members of the company began choreographing pieces that showcased their chosen legends, while guest choreographers also contributed their own interpretations of the theme. The largest challenge a dancer faces is achieving the balance of seeing a choreographer’s vision while maintaining one’s individuality, according to Johnson. While individual dancers shape the performance, it is the seamless integration of the music, choreography and synergy among the company that produces this balance of individuality and unity.
Last Thursday, the company came together for their three-hour rehearsal to review each dance. Dancers dedicate nine to 12 hours per week for rehearsals with an increased time commitment in the days leading up to a performance. Professor Davis stopped dances intermittently, correcting movements and offering revisions and other refinements throughout the rehearsal. She called for the company to command the audience while connecting with their fellow dancers. Her meticulous analysis of the pieces allowed for moments in each dance to take on new life.
One of the revised dances included a duet piece, presenting a stylistic portrayal of love within romantic relationships. The lyrical, sensual nature of the choreography allowed the dancers to occupy the space with an intense passion. The fluidity of the movement conveyed the fluctuating dynamism of relationships as the dancers shifted from entwined positions to separating themselves onstage.
This intimate dance contrasted starkly with a group piece composed of eight dancers. The choreography included sharper movements that fostered a more energized mood within the dance. Incorporating whistles and horns, the music resembled a festive pep band performance that mirrored the dance’s animated nature.
The wide range of dances and stylistic choices help to convey the diversity of the legends celebrated in this performance. While this showcase offers a polished presentation of the work accomplished by the company during this semester, the fall performance is still a work in progress. Dances will continue to evolve throughout the spring to culminate in a final recital that fully encapsulates the growth and collective efforts of the company. The recital takes place in February to celebrate Black History Month, connecting back to BMDT’s original mission of expressing the black experience at Georgetown through the art form of dance.
The showcase will highlight stories that otherwise may not have equal levels of representation and offer a viewpoint for marginalized identities, according to Williams.
“We hope that audience members can see a reflection of themselves in the dances and stories shared in this showcase,” Williams said.
The show is also meant to serve as a space for contemplation and adoration of these iconic individuals in the arts, according to Johnson.
“We want them to be transported to a space of love and joy as we recognize the legends we are paying tribute to,” Johnson said.
BMDT’s fall showcase promises an array of stylistically diverse dances that celebrate the lives of influential figures whose legacy provides inspiration and hope for all. Through meticulously practiced routines and powerful performances, the student performers putting on the show aim to highlight the importance of the black message.