Georgetown University’s Black Movements Dance Theatre (BMDT) will showcase its skillful repertoire in Jubilation!, after more than a semester’s hard work. The showcase will feature choreography by the faculty artistic director Alfreda Davis, three undergraduate company members, and four guest artists.
Black Movements Dance Theatre was founded in the ‘80s by African American students on campus who wanted to have their own distinct artistic voice, to express their experiences as black students, and as black people. “That is the core of what BMDT is and what inspires all of our themes,” said BMDT’s current student director Aliyah Williams (SFS ’20).
This year’s annual showcase is titled Jubilation! “Jubilation is a moment to reflect on the happy things,” Williams, who chose the theme, said. “The past two years we’ve done Exodus and Defiance, which are heavier and very focused on hardship in the contemporary moment as well as the past moment. [With Jubilation!] I wanted to focus on: how did you come out on top of all these hardships, through all the turmoil and chaos that you’ve been through?”
BMDT will be performing mainly modern and contemporary dance, along with some jazz, lyrical, and hip hop elements. The student choreographers include Aliyah Williams, Luisa Ferrari (NHS ’20), Mariah Johnson (COL ’21), and Abby Kraus (COL ’21). Trevor Brown (COL ’21), collaborated with faculty director Davis on a solo piece to Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech about black pride. Jubilation! will also feature “The Queen of Soul,” a multi-song tribute to Aretha Franklin, choreographed by Davis. Within the tribute will be a dance to “Natural Woman,” which will include an interplay of props and lighting. In addition, one of the guest choreographers, Patina Browner, has created an innovative, strong, and strange piece on breathing that truly takes one’s breath away.
The four guest artists participating in the showcase weren’t easy to come by. “The hardest part is recruitment, because your budget is restricted and we’re not even at the standard rate for a choreographer,” Davis said. “We basically have to convince—beg—people to come in and work with our students. And it’s always a great experience.”
Despite the financial difficulties, Davis praises the art community at Georgetown. “I love the fact that the arts is really thriving here at Georgetown. You cannot get a BFA in dance here, but the support we have here is amazing….There’s a lot of great art going on, and I’m happy that we are able to have our space in that as dancers.”
There is a variety of pieces to look forward to in the showcase. Each is unique, vivid, and seems to intimately interact with the music, whether in union or in conflict. Certain elements that especially stood out were the incorporation of running, pulsing, stomping, slapping, and breathing into the performance, and thus into the music as well. This way, the visual and auditory parts of the pieces seemed much more enmeshed than in other dance showcases.
“What I want the audience to take away is their own personal reflections on jubilation,” Williams said. “I feel like it’s so important, especially for college students, being in a tough position. How you stay happy in the midst of all this stress, with so much expected of you. What do you have to be grateful for, to be happy for, to be joyful for? I think it’s really important to keep that alive. I hope this provides a good breathing and reflection space for a lot of people.”
Make sure to go see BMDT’s Jubilation! this Friday, Feb. 15th and Saturday, Feb 16th at 8 pm in the Gonda Theater (in The Davis Performing Arts Center). Tickets can be found here and will be sold on site as well.