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Everywoman Celebration recognizes the talent of Denton women for Women’s History Month

Everywoman Celebration recognizes the talent of Denton women for Women’s History Month

UNT Dance Department performs "Through the Narrow Door"

Everywoman Celebration recognizes the talent of Denton women for Women’s History Month
March 27
14:13 2018

“Every soul walking the planet was born of women,” said Georgina Ngozi, executive director of the Greater Denton Arts Council.

The silence of the crowd reverberated as Ngozi continued.

“And so every soul that is in this room and beyond should be prepared to celebrate with me as mothers, as daughters, as friends, as sisters, and that’s why our male counterparts are important because they too are born of women,” Ngozi said.

The cheers faded into the background as Ngozi addressed the crowd on the significance of this month. Reading a poem she wrote in regard to today, Ngozi kicked off the celebration.

Dubbed “Everywoman Celebration,” the event aimed to showcase local women and the diversity and inclusion among them in the community. As Women’s History Month comes to an end, Denton reflected on the importance of inclusion and equality.

“It’s a great night,” said Mary Williford-Shade, TWU professor and chair of the Department of Dance. “[Ngozi] brought everyone together who has never worked together.”

Shade was one of the many performers for the celebration. Her piece, “Useless Creatures” was a dance showcasing how the progression of older women only makes them stronger, much like a peacock.

The exuberant colors of her costume twirled in unity as she set the stage for the next performance.

“It was a group of animalistic behavior,” Shade said. “We need to push against the idea that we are useless.”

From dance performances by TWU and UNT students and faculty, to jazz performances and a screening of “Living Art: Jo Williams,” Susan Carol Davis’ film about the Denton based artist, Friday marked the first time an event like this was held in Denton.

The audience watches as UNT dance department perform the final performanceUNT Dance Department performs "Through the Narrow Door"Cassandra Berry, vocalist performs "Feeling Good"TWU Dance Department performs "Chapters: The Process of Healing"Gwen Johnson, vocalist performs "Try"Members of  TWU Dance Department performs "Chapters: The Process of Healing"IMG_7826
Member of UNT Dance Department performs Dance Department performs "Through the Looking Door."
[Photos by Tate A. Owen]

Diversity in dance

One showcase caught many audience members’ attention, including 8 year-old Kimai Dacres.

The dance performance, “A Star Counting the Night” featured five TWU dance students as they combined smooth, savvy moves to electrifying hip-hop. Dancing to the beat of “Your Night” by Gaeko and Hwang Kwanghee, the crew turned the energy level up.

Each step of the synced dance moves provided another platform for the next dancer to take the lead. The quick beats struck a chord in many of the children who sat perched, awaiting the next move.

“Do you wanna know what my favorite one was?” Kimai said. “I liked the hip-hop one.”

Looking up at her mother, Kimai let it be known she will be back next year.

Kimai’s mother, Yvonne Dacres, a Denton based vocal coach, was also in agreement.

“I’m biased, but I really enjoyed the hip-hop one too,” Yvonne said.

Though Yvonne thought the Everywoman Celebration was different, she hoped there would have been more.

“I wanted it to be a more culturally mixed celebration where performers brought something more unique,” Dacres said.

The show was far from over as a performance piece entitled “Chapters: The Process of Healing” brought social issues to the forefront of their dance. Choreographed by TWU graduate student and dance artist Azaria Rianne Hogans, the thoughtful dance used language and text to convey its message of race.

Using sound clips from political commentators, the performance played on the language of what it means to be black.

The expressive moves and genre fusion synced harmoniously as more women were added to the context. In the background, voices could be heard as they spoke about the removal of confederate monuments, natural black hair and slavery’s existence in history.

“Slavery is good history?” could be heard over the speakers as the duo danced away.

“I never fit in the stereotypical black culture,” Hogans said. “I wanted to tell my own story and let my dancers also tell their own. It was my take on what modern black dance is.”

The piece was just a snippet of the whole dance that was Hogans’s master culmination project she had been working on for more than a year.

“I use dance to challenge the ways we see and think about our world,” Hogan said.

Women take the lead

The same theme of artistic expression was evident in all of the talent in the showcase. From Hogan to Williams, the creativity of women was nearly overflowing from center stage.

Williams, a local Denton artist who has been part of the community for years relished in this new atmosphere. Known primarily for her watercolor works, Williams has established herself as a force within the community.

“[Susan], a filmmaker, wanted to do a short film on me,” Williams said. “It was her first, and I enjoyed it a lot.”

After being introduced to the art world at a young age by her teachers, Williams thrived on the detail work that went into watercolors.

The film showcased at the celebration highlighted her passion for advocating and representing women artists. Much like many other performers that night, everyone found an opportunity to personally honor women. For instance, vocalist Cassandra Berry honored her favorite female advocate Harriet Tubman, by singing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” allegedly one of Tubman’s favorite songs.

As the celebration came to an end, Ngozi reflected on the night.

“I realized this is a multigenerational and multicultural experience, and we could do this for many more years to come,” Ngozi said.

Featured Image: Members of UNT’s Dance Department performs “Through the Narrow Door.” Tate A. Owen

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Sadia Saeed

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