Breaking Bias and Stereotypes through dance!

Before Thanksgiving Break, We got the opportunity to witness a performance called “Virago-Man Dem,” choreographed by Cynthia Oliver, at the Krannert Center.

Written By Xuan Huynh

I was extremely excited to watch this performance because dancing is one of my favorite hobbies. Dancing has helped me get through many tough times. Whenever I’m sad, I listen to music and dance and immediately I feel better.

At the beginning of the performance, I was undeniably confused. They were shaking, wasn’t in sync with each other and doing odd, never seen moves. It looked like they were being possessed. I even asked one of my classmates “What’s going on?” I thought it was going to be typical, modern dance but it was completely the opposite but in the best way possible.

Shapeshifting was present in the performance in many ways. They changed costumes a lot, so maybe they were shifting to another being. An example of this is towards the end when the male dancers changed into dresses. Even though the dance was nothing like I expected, it delivered a strong message. It challenged society’s stereotypes of what it means to be an African American male as well as address issues that African Americans face such as police brutality. During one part of the performance, they had their hands up. I think conveying this message through live performance is powerful and extremely creative. I would love to see another one of her performances soon.

Shape-Shifting of One’s Understanding: Virago-Man Dem

Written by Kamani J Harris

photo of the dancers in Virago-Man Dem by Cynthia Oliver.
Taken by Kamani Harris

In Cynthia Oliver’s Virago-Man Dem I found myself struggling to put together the changes and metamorphosis within the dance that represents finding oneself, race, and gender identity.

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