Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago Presents Chicago Debut of COCo. Dance Theatre
Virago-Man Dem, Oliver’s newest evening-length, experimental dance-theatre work, is a study in masculinities and their multiplicities within cultures of Caribbean and African-American communities. The work captures various masculinities through movement, spoken language and visual design and explores the expressions particular to Caribbean and African-American black masculinities as they are performed and expressed by men, staged on male bodies, but designed and interpreted by a woman. Virago-Man Dem contains traces of all those who have been a part of the two-year process of bringing it to the stage, and is grounded in the lives of the folks performing the work—Duane Cyrus, Jonathan Gonzalez, Ni'Ja Whitson and Niall Noel Jones—and extrapolates to broader cultural trajectories.
According to the COCo. Dance Theatre spokesperson, “The work asks, ‘How can a woman choreograph masculinity without resorting to stereotypes, but instead locate its nuances, challenges and ambiguities? Those very elements that black communities know so well and yet see rarely reflected in the culture at large?’”
Cynthia Oliver has danced with Theatre Dance Inc. and the Caribbean Dance Company of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and with numerous independent choreographers and companies, including the David Gordon Pick Up Co., Ronald Kevin Brown/Evidence, Bebe Miller Company (appearing at the Dance Center later this season) and Tere O’Connor Dance (which performed at the Dance Center in 2016). She creates performance collages that move from dance to word to sound and back again toward an eclectic and provocative dance theatre, incorporating textures of Caribbean performance with African and American aesthetic sensibilities. She is Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
Accompanying the debut of this work, The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, in partnership with the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, presents a free panel discussion, “Performing Black Masculinities: Where, How and for Whom?,” featuring Oliver and taking place Monday, October 30 at 7 p.m. at the Logan Center, 915 E. 60th Street, in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. In this public conversation, artists, activists and scholars present their work, offer up personal experiences and discuss places of intersection as they collectively address notions of black masculinity. The panel examines the ways black masculinities are activated across geography, generation and nationality and their relevance to sexualities, community, individuals and personhood. The panelists also include Columbia College Chicago Professor Raquel Monroe, Artist Roger Bonair-Agard and media personality Dometi Pongo. Activist Ayinde Jean-Baptiste will serve as moderator. Those interested in attending should RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a post-performance conversation with the artists Thursday, November 2 and a pre-performance talk with Cynthia Oliver Friday, November 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Sherwood Community Music School’s recital hall, 1312 S. Michigan Ave. (next door to the Dance Center), both free to ticket holders.
Additional residency activities with community partners and Columbia College Chicago students take place throughout the week leading up to the performance weekend.
November 2, 3 and 4 7:30 PM
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago
1306 S. Michigan Ave.