Expressing views and absurdity through dance

Written by Syed Ali

Last week, the Krannert Center for Performing Arts held a dance performance choreographed by Cynthia Oliver. The performance, Virago-Man Dem, involved different stages of movement that worked in conjunction with a screen, spotlight, and flickering music.




The idea of shape-shifting was represented in the performance in various ways. Primarily, shifts and changes were represented through movement; throughout the dance, the movements of the dancers constantly changed and moved in a series of stages. One part that stood out to me was when the performers ran in circles or used each other to “boost” or change themselves. In another part, they began to huddle close to the ground, next to each other. As they formed a pile, they moved and crawled in a small corner (contrasting the large screen and the spotlight). Their movements constantly shifted and they depended on each other to form new ones.

The visual projection behind the performers also represented shape-shifting. In the beginning, different pictures of art were cast, slowly evolving into a rapid slideshow. Different patterns and full-screen colors occupied the background, adding another layer of a shifting atmosphere. The lighting aided the performers as well, following them around or focusing on one person during a monologue. When a person spoke to the crowd, movement around them and the visual projection invoked a sense of a changing identity or expression.

Overall, the performance had multiple aspects to it, such as the visual projections, monologues, changing movements and relationships that all represented the idea of shape-shifting. Music played a role as well, although I felt as it wasn’t as influential or important as the other aspects. Music added more meaning to the movement and coincided with the lighting and visual projections. Ultimately, I really enjoyed Virago-Man Dem and the comedy/seriousness it expressed.

Pictures by Syed Ali


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