Black Movements Dance Theatre does not need words to tell stories.
Founded 23 years ago by approximately 30 female students, BMDT aims to portray black traditions, values and experiences through dance.
“Our values are passed down through the stories we tell,”BMDT Co-Director Princess Fuller (SFS ’13) said.
The dance company’s repertoire ranges from jazz, ballet and hip-hop to African, lyrical and spiritual dance styles. Guest artists and choreographers also collaborate with the company throughout the year.
Although originally founded to celebrate the black experience, BMDT attracts members with diverse backgrounds, dance styles and music preferences.
“Our group is so diverse; company members are from all different walks of life,” Co-Director LeothaHinds (COL ’13) said. “We’re diverse in so many ways, too. This year, we have international students — a dancer from Saudi Arabia and a dancer from France — all different levels of technique, backgrounds and even the way we think about dance is different.”
Currently, BMDT also incorporates performances from two spoken-word artists, Vivian Ojo (SFS ’14) and Toby Campion (COL ’13). Ojo auditioned for the company her freshman year, and after the members discovered that she wrote and performed poetry, they began combining dance with her spoken-word performances. Campion, an exchange student from the University of Edinburgh who is new to the program, has not performed yet but will also perform spoken-word poetry this semester.
Assistant Director and Publicity Manager Bernadette Nelson (SFS ’14) said that the inclusion of poetry performances goes with BMDT’s emphasis on self-expression.
“A dancer’s body can only go so far, and its movement can only have so much effect. What we’re focused on is eliciting reaction from our audiences, and that requires emotion,” Fuller said.
Each semester, the group organizes its performances around a common theme; last spring, its focus was pressure. Each member used dance as a catharsis, conveying pain and struggle through their routines.
“Our intention was to connect with the audience and convey the sense [of] happiness that comes with the overcoming of struggle,” Hinds said.
According to Nelson, the group is as much a support system as it is a dance company.
“Our main goal for the semester is creating a unified group whose members relate through their passion and dedication to expressive dance,” she said.
“We move with our bodies but dance with our souls,” she said.