Breaking the Sterotype


Prior to leaving for Thanksgiving Break, I had the opportunity to attend yet another show at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. I must say I have come to enjoy the performances that I go see each week. This particular performance by Cynthia Oliver titled, “Virago-Man Dem,” was something unexpected but quite intriguing by the message it left behind.

Written By: Fatimah Ibidunni

The show began with the performers standing completely still. Even when the music began the two performers off stage and the two on stage were not moving at all. I think this served the purpose of building anticipation in the audience to see what would happen. I sat in my chair wondering what was going on as the tribal music was playing and the background depicting images that seemed to begin to set the tone for the performance. Before anything even began I did not feel as if I was just in the Krannert Center for Performing Arts watching a performance, I felt as if I was being transported to a different setting. A different world.

As the actors finally began to make movements slowly I paid close attention to them. The movements were strange and even made me feel uncomfortable at some points during the performance. It just didn’t feel normal. I think the way that I felt was how I was supposed to feel. The curiosity that was sparked as the performance went on, the confusion, and the anticipation I feel were all necessary aspects to the performance. It pushed the envelope to what we typically see and the settings that we are familiar with. This was to create a whole new image of the black man. Instead of always seeing portrayals of black men in situations where they are seen as intimidating, tough, and a treat, the dancers depicted a side of black men that showed feminity, unthreatening, and weakness.

While I was more than confused at the performance, I now understand what Cynthia Oliver was attempting to portray through this story told in the form of dance.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.