Next weekend, Georgetown University’s Walsh Black Box Theatre will host the Black Movements Dance Theatre fall concert, Paradigm. The night goes beyond your typical dance recital with an assortment of distinctive, drama-filled stories. The performance styles include contemporary, tap, jazz, ballet and African dance, and the group takes entertainment to a new level through its flawlessly choreographed and executed pieces.
The fall concert was put together by Artistic Director professor Alfreda Davis, the student choreographers and the performers. Students were taught by various guest choreographers, exposing them to the dance world beyond Georgetown’s campus. By dipping into choreography, the students got an amazing opportunity to create their own dance ensembles.
Black Movements Dance Theatre was founded in the early 1980s by two black women at Georgetown University. The goal of the dance group was to convey passion and meaning through an ensemble that impeccably combines dance and drama. Over 30 years later, these values of artistic creativity and expression have not been lost, and they are prevalent in each of the dancers’ performances.
“I believe that those women were the kind of trailblazers who used an artistic craft as the platform for social, political and personal progression. They created a space within the arts programs for Ailey and Horton-inspired modern dance, jazz, and hip-hop, all of which find roots in the African culture and African-American condition. Every time I convene with BMDT, or dance before an audience beneath the name of BMDT, I feel this incredible duty and a gratitude to them that I don’t think my experience here at Georgetown would have been the same without,” Publicity Director Jasmine Joseph (MSB ’17) said.
This semester’s theme is “Paradigm.” “The theme reflects a period of transition for our dance company as we adapt to the loss of a large senior class, an influx of new members, and a new dance studio,” Student Director and Business Manager Alexandria Ciejka (MSB ’15) said.
This wave of underclassmen has created a new paradigm for the future of Black Movements Dance Theatre as these members bring their own unique contribution to the ensemble.
By default, one would expect a dedicated group of dancers to put significant time and effort into such a spectacular event, yet the detail and work put into the concert seems almost unprecedented. At a single practice, performers obsess over minute details of timing, of a particular movement, or the exact way they will perform a certain step. Each and every move is carefully expressed, and has, without a doubt, been rehearsed countless times until it contains just the right amount of grace, technique and precision.
The show is a chance for performers to express themselves through the two forms of art they know best: drama and dance. The passion for both drama and dance are present in the tangible energy and perfected expressions of the performers. Each dancer is involved in multiple pieces throughout the concert, each piece varying in its style of dance, choreographer and number of performers.
“On a broader scale, the idea of paradigm is very relevant to the college experience as a whole, as students are constantly changing and growing throughout their time at Georgetown. As a senior, I am preparing to leave the comforts of Georgetown and tackle a new job and a new city, an idea that is exciting but also very frightening. Paradigm is about embracing the many changes that occur in our lives (and in our Georgetown experience in particular) and learning to grow and adapt into better, stronger individuals,” Ciejka said.
Joseph strongly agrees with this message. “This fall concert is quite representative of not only a Georgetown student but the entirety of a person. It intends to depict, through dance, the dimensionality of the human experience — we all fight battles behind closed doors, sometimes we just need to have silly fun with our friends before going out , and sometimes all it takes is a song or dance to lift life’s heavy burdens,” she said.
The dancers of Black Movements Dance Theatre display an overflow of drama that one can feel and become a part of when watching their ensembles. The performers are not just instructed to feel and perform the dance moves, but they are also told to become one with the piece by incorporating drama and acting, hence the “theatre” part of the dance ensemble’s title. This creates a more entertaining show that adds dimension to the dances on a stage.
“From the outside, I express the outburst of hysteria and frustration and just the feeling of wanting to be free,” Stefanie Palencia (COL ’15), assistant director and dance captain, said. “We as young women and men are just beginning to experience the real substance of life and what it requires. We are all experimenting with our limits and learning what type of people we are capable of being. It is difficult, and oftentimes we just want to escape and fall off the edge of any limit anyone has ever set before us– whether that be emotionally, physically, shit. even mentally. I wanted to turn [my piece] into a movement that was liberating and honest.”
The intricacy of the pieces does not go unnoticed. With such talent and complexity, Paradigm is sure to be a stunning performance. The show takes place on Friday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 22, closing the fall dance season with a resounding bang. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone or at the Davis Center Box Office at $8 for Georgetown students.