Sarah Chew / Contributing Writer
As dancers stole their way onstage in the Wright Center, Eleanor Roosevelt’s voice projected over faint, ethereal music, reading the Preamble to the Declaration of Human Rights. From the first piece, the interweaving of dance, spoken word, and music set the tone for the Re/vise Dance Concert, a performance intended to spotlight diversity.
The Samford Dance Company presented this concert as part of the ongoing 2021-22 season of the Michael J. and Mary Anne Freeman Theatre and Dance Series. The concert was held Feb. 25-27, and Samford students received free admission, encouraging attendance.
The timing of the performance was intentional; the last weekend of February was also the last weekend of Black History Month. In the program, a note from Mark Castle, Chair of Theatre and Dance, emphasized the tribute to racial diversity.
Castle’s description called to attention the “four new pieces choreographed by people of color,” as well as “pieces inspired by important historical events and influential people such as the Declaration of Human Rights, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement.”
The concert also sought diversity through the dances themselves, each of which stood alone in themes, choreography, and genre. These ranged from the meditative peace of “Morning Mist,” an excerpt from the 2021 Magic City Nutcracker, to the joyful color and movement of “Kuku,” modeled on a traditional Guinean dance performed by women after fishing.
Eleven independent choreographers participated in Re/vise, and one piece, “Dilemma,” was performed in collaboration with Alabama State University. Multiple dances incorporated live musicians, both from the local Birmingham area and the Samford Music Department.
This collaboration between experts and students made the concert particularly unique, especially because the dancers performing the show had heavy influence over its production. The first piece, “Free + Equal,” demonstrated what creative freedom, the result of choreographers asking students for input, could look like. Lenox Jones, a junior with a dance minor, said the piece was her favorite to perform.
“The dancers were picked because of our different dance styles,” Jones said. “The choreographer used how we moved and how we liked to dance as part of creating the choreography.”
For dance, each movement is key. Jones identified the uniqueness of the medium as its connection to the human body, and the range of emotions showcased during Re/vise is just one more example of its theme of diversity.
“The art of dance is itself the person. You’re not creating something with another medium, you are the medium,” Jones said. “We can bring emotions to light that you may think but not be able to express except through some motion that triggers the feeling.”
In addition to annual concerts, the Samford Dance Company hosts choreography showcases once a year. More information, including how to audition, can be found online at https://www.samford.edu/arts/theatre-and-dance/dance-minor or through the company’s Instagram page, @samforddancecompany.