Black Movements Dance Theatre is kicking off its latest season this Friday, Feb. 24 with an entertaining and compelling performance in the Davis Center for the Performing Arts’ Gonda Theater. “Reflections: We Speak Their Name” maintains the integrity of BMDT’s mission statement, which explains its “artistic vision to express the African-American experience through dance.” This voice is strong throughout the whole performance, but a diverse group of performers and choreographers yields an eclectic assembly of dance and music. “Reflections” boasts pieces choreographed by renowned artists Katherine Smith and Princess Mhoon, BMDT’s artistic director, Alfreda Davis, and several students.
Each audience member will be inspired by some aspect of BMDT’s performance, even if he or she is not particularly interested in dance. “Reflections” contains several poems, some with choreography and some without, and several pieces that verge on drama because of the raw emotion that the dancers flawlessly convey. It opens with a prelude set to poetry, backlit by blues and reds. The girls transform their bodies to portray rushing water in accompaniment to the recitation of a poem about “human spirit.” The content of the poem then turns to Africa, and the performance begins.
From the first moment of the performance, the audience knows it is about to observe an abstract portrayal of human suffering. “Reflections” moves back and forth from pieces set to pop music to dances with a distinctly more ethnic feel. The lack of a predictable pattern keeps the audience on their toes about what’s to come and unsure about whether they will cry, laugh or be simply too immersed in the show’s aesthetic presentation to think anything at all.
One piece, an original poem performed by Vivian Ojo (SFS’ 14), is particularly captivating. The words of the poem itself are extremely powerful. Though Ojo’s movements are not as choreographed as others, her body conveys the final message of dance as a means of rebellion and revival. Ojo’s poem leads the rest of the performance to diverge from the first section’s focus on physical and emotional suffering, symbolized by synchronized ensemble pieces and heartbreaking solo performances.
The inclusion of other art forms besides dance may be unexpected due to BMDT’s renown as one of Georgetown’s most prominent dance groups. However, the diverse nature of the show makes it a must-see. The performance speaks to the triumph of the human spirit, rather than focusing on the sufferings of a single group — though, admittedly, there is a prevailing sense of female empowerment throughout the show. Reflections: We Speak Their Name is sure leave the Georgetown community wanting more from this performance and in heightened anticipation of the Black Movements Dance Theater’s next season.