Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Urban Bush Women Disappoints At Least One Macaulay Student

When we first received news that my fellow classmates and I would be going to BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, I was looking forward to a thrilling performance.  Much to my dismay I was mistaken.  I was one of the first to arrive at BAM and I noticed some of the trailers for the performance we were about to witness.  My excitement and anticipation quickly changed to dread and loathing.  Several flat screen televisions were playing a few short clips that made my stomach churn.  As much as I didn’t want to, I decided to give the Urban Bush Women a chance to impress me before I made hasty conclusions.  I entered the theater with an open mind, hoping I would be wrong about the performance.

From the very beginning of the performance I was bored.  Slow movements began to put me to sleep and I found myself struggling to keep my eyes open.  The open-mind I came into the theater with was slowly fading.  I knew this would be the longest ninety minutes of my life.  Scene after scene of what seemed like pointless dancing filled the stage and lulled me to a drowsy state.  Besides the incredibly tedious plot, another thing that made this a difficult experience was the fact that I had no idea what it this performance was about.  If I didn’t ask my fellow classmates after the performance I still wouldn’t have known that it was about slavery and survival.  The Urban Bush Women use “contemporary dance, music, and text with the history, culture, and spiritual traditions of African Americans and the African Diaspora, exploring the transformation of struggle and suffering into the bittersweet joy of survival.”

One upside to the performance was the ending dance “battle” between the male and female cast members.  Jumping, kicking, and spinning filled the stage as these talented dancers did what they do best.  It was interesting to see how they used dancing and choreography to express their emotions to one another, including the audience.  I wondered if the dance moves were specifically choreographed or made up on the spot.  It could’ve gone either way.  This incredible scene of organized chaos truly saved the show from an almost certain demise.

1 comment

1 Kamellia Saroop { 12.16.08 at 8:59 pm }

I agree with some of your opinions; the dancing was quite boring, and if it wasn’t for some cultural connections present in the performance, I would’ve fallen asleep.

I like how you quoted the last sentence of your second paragraph to show that you didn’t share that view.