Girl Power

August 15, 2010

I did an interview with the very talented, very articulate, and very opinionated choreographer Jessica Lang a few months ago–and made the (ultimately fortunate) mistake of asking her how she felt about the trend of all-female choreographer evenings. She groaned. “I hate that artistic directors have started using it as a ploy to bring in audiences: ‘Hey, we’ll do an all-girl evening!'” she said. “I’m sure their intentions are good, but it makes me feel woefully insecure sometimes. I know there aren’t many women choreographers out there, but that doesn’t mean we need to be championed. I don’t want to get opportunities just because I’m a woman; I strongly believe in the value of what I create. If you want Christopher Wheeldon, hire him. Don’t give it to me because I’m a girl!”

I’ve thought of that rant often the past couple of nights, which I’ve spent at the Joyce Theater, soaking up wonderful dances by four very talented choreographers: Andrea Miller, Camille A. Brown, Kate Weare, and Monica Bill Barnes. They all happen to be women–but, refreshingly, that wasn’t the point. These ladies weren’t chosen to share two programs at the prestigious Joyce because they’re girls; they were chosen because they’re GOOD.

Really, really good! Miller explored the dangerous, twisted consequences of herd mentality in her self-consciously theatrical, pitch-perfect Wonderland (inspired by this art installation). In five short, vividly personable works, Brown proved that she’s both a sophisticated stylist and a crowd-pleaser. Weare’s Bright Land–accompanied by a fantastic “old-time” band–was a touching, intimate, oh-so-human dance poem. And Barnes’ Another Parade, which juxtaposed Bach with James Brown and ballet with silly showgirl moves, was good, earnest fun–a “not a girl, not yet a woman” romp complete with confetti and a disco ball. (A special shoutout to Dance Magazine editor Kina, who made a guest appearance in Barnes’ piece!)

Yay for women choreographing–and yay for venues presenting their choreography because it DESERVES to be presented.