Tonight and Saturday, Muscle Memory Dance Theatre (M2DT) will be presenting Black is the Color of that Kettle, a collection of dance works for and about women who have been abused, or are being abused. Benefiting Dallas’s Genesis Women’s Shelter and held at Life in Deep Ellum, the mission of this production is to increase awareness of domestic violence in our community and to show how therapeutic dance, and the arts, can be.
The dance community here in North Texas, as well as other major cities in the nation, is predominately female based. M2DT has been collecting stories of women who have struggled, or are currently struggling, with some form of abuse, whether it is physical or emotional.
Personally, I deal with my internal and external conflicts through dance. Whenever I am stressed out, overloaded with work, or dealing with an emotional issue, I always feel better and reconnected with myself after a dance class, rehearsal or a performance. Dance provides an avenue of transformation – you can lose yourself in the character you are portraying and the story you are telling and express your true emotions in a freeing way. And as a company, M2DT wants to express the benefits of using movement as a tool to address these struggles and as a method to persevere.
It is our mission to use our artistry to support the broken women in our community, as well as the women who have so graciously given their stories. Domestic violence is an ongoing battle, and Black is the Color of that Kettle is a collection of dance stories choreographed by M2DT company members and guest artists that are being presented to bring awareness, support and a physical voice to this issue.
Co-Artistic Director Lesley Snelson-Figueroa’s “Leftovers,” created by little clumps of foiled barricades, emotes the feelings of combative relationships. Dancers transition from isolated solos to ensembles by connecting fists, folding hands and yearning to be wrapped up and unraveled.
Co-Artistic Director Amy L. Sleigh’s “ ‘It’s All W’s Fault.’ Good by Mr. Soandso” is a memoir of a woman who journeys from a counterfeit love to the vast love of her own lavish hand. The dance begins between a suit and a woman, and as the story unfolds, she finds a note that reveals the truth of the suit and the dance transposes to thwarted gestures that rupture a series of tight turns, breathable travel patterns, and packing motifs that lead her to the open road.
Guest artist Linda Quinn (Tarrant County College Northeast) choreographed “I loved Me,” which is based on a collection of personal memories from a past abusive relationship. It is about confusion, fear, turmoil and, eventually, evolution.
“Inflammable,” choreographed by M2DT company member Meghan Cardwell-Wilson, features a quintet attached by history and isolated by raw, individual responses to being burned.
Guest artist Amy Querin (FresNO Dance Collective) set her solo, “Restraint,” on Cardwell-Wilson. Inspired by ideas that caged birds sing (Maya Angelou) and that “it is our light, not our darkness that most frightens” (Marianne Williamson), the soloist explores the realization that there is freedom in being caged and fear in being free.
Collective member Deborah Golden’s trio, “Smudge,” tells the story of broken women who seek one another in order to trust, to heal, to persevere and to grow despite the smudge – that common mark that binds them all together.
New company members Bethany Therese Nelson and Andrew Coronado will be premiering works this weekend, too.
Nelson’s “Copiah County,” which is inspired by her rural Mississippi roots and titled after the quiet county her family has inhabited for generations, celebrates the Southern matriarch as the glue that bonds family together; yet, it also acknowledges the hardships endured by Southern women – being asked to share the physical workload as well as care for the family. Performed by six women to the music of Fort Worth’s The Theater Fire, “Copiah County” is stoic and proud and built with grace and delicacy.
Coronado’s “SoRoar” examines the love between sisters. A duet danced in jest, “SoRoar” finds these two sisters intertwining in hand-held gestures, postural pro-tag games and affectionately devoting themselves to be linked together for a lifetime.
I have had the opportunity to work with both of these new choreographers, and the experience has been one to remember. What better way to get to know someone than to live their stories with them? It has been wonderful to share in their collective experiences and to be able to share their stories with others. I will be performing “Copiah County” on both Friday and Saturday and “SoRoar” on Saturday evening only.
Benefiting Dallas’s Genesis Women’s Shelter, Black is the Color of that Kettle opens tonight and runs on Saturday, too. Shows are at 8 p.m. at Life in Deep Ellum, 2803 Taylor St. Tickets are $15 for general admission; $12 for students/seniors. Box Office opens at 7.
Please join us Saturday evening for a silent auction and reception following the performance.