by Steven Weisz for The Dance Journal
In anticipation of the exhibition Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist, The Barnes Foundation held it’s fifth Artist Bash featuring “Fierce Women” performing work that spoke to the power of a nurturing community, advocating for immigration reform, bringing a private journey into the public arena, and celebrating artistic improvisation.
The evening’s program featured a range of women artists, dance taking center stage with performances by Annielille Gavino’s Malayaworks, Cambodian American Girls Empowering (CAGE), Tangle Movement Arts and community tango dancing on the terrace with Meredith Kline and The Argentine Tango School. Also included on the bill were Drum Like A Lady with LaTreice Branson, performance artist Nikki Powerhouse, Singer Vessna Scheff, and Clothing designer Nicole Haddad of Lobo Mau.
Annielille Gavino’s Malayaworks presented two pieces with fellow dancers Chloe Marie, Keila Perez-Vega, Evalina Wallis Cain Carbonell, Whitney Casal, and Amanda Edwards. HERstory, inspired by matrilineal pre-colonial societies, demonstrated how goddesses were omnipresent in our spirituality. Her second piece was a lineage project, a portrayal of the different classes of women from the Mestizas ( mixed blood). Displayed was an upper-class dress called traje de mestiza given to Annielille by her grandmother, which is then juxtaposed throughout the piece with indigenous women represented by a fabric called the “malong “. Gavino’s choreography continues to grow with the self-exploration of her own heritage, and we are privileged to be able to share in her journey of strength and perseverance.
This was my first time seeing Cambodian American Girls Empowering (CAGE). The four young dancers shared with the audience classical dances from their native Cambodia. As second generation Cambodian Americans seeking to further embrace, create accessibility and share their heritage and culture, their subtle yet exact movements captured the imaginations and emotions of those in attendance, transporting us to other times and places.
Tangle Movement Arts, just off their FringeArts run of In The Forest, had each member of their troupe presenting one after another with stunning aerial dance movement and acrobatics. The all-female company offered some dazzling moments as they weaved intricate body and fabric shapes above the audience, who responded with resounding applause.
While three stages of entertainment were running in the main hall, the adjacent outdoor terrace had the dance floor filled with couples engaged in the tango! Many were regular students of Kline’s Argentine Tango School with a few instructors thrown in for good measure, but quite a few couples who were watching from the sidelines soon felt moved to join in, a testament to the school’s community engagement.
It was a sold out evening with a most enthusiastic crowd, that not only cheered for the artists but found themselves moving, clapping, stomping, cheering and dancing, creating a most magical evening in celebration of Fierce Women.
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