Virago-Man Dem: Fighting Cultural Conventions with Dance

Written by Carol(Yining) Wei


Last Thursday we went to Krannert Center of Performing Arts for the show Virago-Man Dem created by the artist Cynthia Oliver. The dance of this performance was not exactly how we pictured it to be. It was not so much of a typical dance, but more like a play in which the themes are presented by physical motions of the dancers and change in lightings.

This show has an interesting start. The music was groovy and the dancers all dressed in white, standing on four spots on and off the stage. The screen has purple lighting, and the spotlights are on the dancers. Then as it started, the screen turned into blue with patterns like waves and then some drawings showed up. The creater used various visual and audio stimulations to the audience. For example, the most memorable one was the red screen with buzzing sound that gave me a minor headache. I also noticed that some students left early, and this might be a reason.

Credit: The New York Times


One of the themes I can tell from this performance was the police violence to African Americans. There was a scene in which the dancers has their hands up. This was a pretty abstract show and to be very honest, I did not get all of it, but I think the theme is defying cultural pressures and breaking free from conformity. For the texts I saw on the screen, “it’s complicated” reflects social issues such as racism, black traditions or the history of slavery in the US. It is a complicated culture, just as all cultures are, while the media would try to portray it from one single aspect which does not represent the full picture.




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