Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Urban Bush Women wp-dyn/content/photo

              On a bitter cold evening my class met at BAM in Downtown Brooklyn to watch the final show of the semester, a dance performance called “Urban Bush Women”.  When I entered the building I felt a sense of awe at the beauty of the structure. BAM is a glimpse into the old Brooklyn, a place rich with culture.

            Dance is a completely different art form than writing, singing, acting or photography. It uses the human body to convey a theme through movement. Dancing allows people who do not speak the same language to communicate. I find the ability to dance especially fascinating because I am totally inept when it comes to dancing.

            The show opens with the dancers standing on the stage and repeating the names of their ancestors, not with dancing or music like I was expecting. The performers consisted of two groups, one African American women, and the other, Senegalese men.  Once the dancing began it was very impressive. I especially loved the dance where the men twirl the red scarves. This had a dramatic effect that made it seem as though they were waving fire around their heads.

            Throughout the show, the settings of the dances alternate from African American women in New York to African men in Senegal. Dance is not a narrative so the theme, movements, and technique are important. This performance represented the theme of slavery vs. freedom. The women are in the Diaspora and the African men are in their homeland.

            In the last dance, the men and the women performed together. This is interesting because these people do not speak the same language or share the same culture. However, the directors are able to organize the two groups and bring them together through dance. It was very funny when the Senegalese man in the yellow pants and one of the women danced together. The man tried to make advances toward her, and the woman rejected these moves. In the end, she gave him a slap on his behind. This was comical and I was never aware that dance sometimes contains humor.

            I really enjoyed this show. I have become more culturally exposed through the many forms of art I have seen. Dance is unique in that it everything is expressed through movement and music, rather than spoken language.