Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Urban Bush Women: Confusing Symbols

Urban Bush women, the scales of Memory, is a very symbolic dance performance. The name can be a little confusing because “bush women” would imply an emphasis on nature, but urban gives us the mental image of city life. This confusion that I had when I read the title was the same level of confusion that I had during the performance. Throughout the entirety of the performance I had trouble understanding what, if anything, was going on. The dancing was very entertaining but it was hard to appreciate it when the symbolic meanings were completely lost on me.

            I feel that Urban Bush woman was an exhibit of brilliant dancing combined with no real comprehension of what it should all mean. The dancing itself was exquisite. The name would lead people to believe that there are only women in this performance when in fact it is evenly split between men and women. There are many skillful sequences dance sequences, which will leave you wondering, how did they do that? I was less curious about how they did their actions but what they all meant. I felt that their movements were supposed to mean something but it was intensely difficult to decipher it. Words were few and far between and when the performers did speak it was either not in English or indecipherable. If one just focuses on the dancing however, you will be pleasantly surprised. The dancers were fluid in their movements and incredibly acrobatic. The props and set design are worth noting for their supporting roles. They were background elements and did not really stand out but they did their job.

            Urban Bush Women overall, was a disappointing show that did not do justice to a good concept. The original purpose was to reflect upon African life. This is noble goal but I would have liked to see it better executed. If the purpose of the performance was simply to be a dance exhibition than it achieved its goal. I am not saying that there should be a full plot with heroes and villains. I respect symbolic performances and I generally like the way the real ideas are expressed so creatively. That is what I was expecting from Bush Women but it is not what I received. I would recommend this performance for those who are only interested in skillful dancing. If you are looking to experience a true education about this culture than this is not the show for you.


1 Kamellia Saroop { 12.28.08 at 1:38 am }

I also agree that this show was a bit disappointing, and you seem to cover the “confusing” aspect of it quite well. I personally didn’t find the dancing entertaining, but to each his own. There were some cultural elements present in the performance, but I guess they were not easily presented. I think your review covers what any critic would be worried about; good job!

2 Vince { 12.29.08 at 6:46 am }

Christian i completely agree. the dancing was great but i felt as if i didnt understand it as well as i should have. i also believed that this performance only consisted of women, hence the title. I think it is safe to say that you aren’t the only one who was disappointed with this performance.