Females in Flux

Females in Flux
May 26, 2016 W. Celeste Davis Stragand
Photos by Life Through the Lenses-Taylor Mendoza. Images courtesy of Whitney Waugh Dance.

Photos by Life Through the Lenses-Taylor Mendoza. Images courtesy of Whitney Waugh Dance.

On Sunday, May 15 at The Savoy at Curtis Park, Whitney Waugh Dance Company completed its world-premiere weekend of FLUX. Performing to approximately 65 people on Sunday afternoon, the performance opened with live acoustic guitar singer/songwriter Sydney Clapp.  There was then a brief welcome by artistic director, Whitney Waugh and executive director, Rachel Brady.

Act 1 opens with the seven female dancers clad in variations of black lying on their backs audibly breathing. This breadth turns to gasp and almost cough before the dancers begin exploring the lower planes of dance with movements evolving from floor to knee.  The dancers finally rise and the puppet-like interaction seems to explore the position and placement of female. Dancers are moving/re-aligning and articulating each other’s movements in a way to physically state, the female body is continually in a state of conflicting information. Stand straight, tilt to the right, lower the arms, raise the arms, move the leg a little to the left.

Photo by Life Through the Lenses-Taylor Mendoza. Image courtesy of Whitney Waugh Dance.

Photo by Life Through the Lenses-Taylor Mendoza. Image courtesy of Whitney Waugh Dance.

Continuing along this vein, the dancers pair in groups of three and two as if they are filling in the pieces of a body puzzle.  They are looking to fit a body within the other. Each dancer performs a mini-solo routine during this exploration of self and then begin random walking along the floor.  Finally one lone dancer is left and breaks her grip from herself as if reflecting the ultimate goal in female body acceptance/ownership is to release from the constraints placed upon themselves by society, but accepted by one’s self.  If we accept the societal constructs, then we are truly the ones holding ourselves prisoner.  To defy/deny the cage means it doesn’t exist in the first place.

Act II opens with Our Soul’s Dwelling, all of the dancers don the stage in ivory skirts and nude colored bralettes. The musical accompaniment is Sydney Clapp who performs in a seemingly extemporaneous way moaning and wailing as the dancers move about the wooden floor.  There is a growing in unison sequence that was a little jagged in timing with lots of wing (large arm circle) movements. The torsos flow as if swivels placed atop hips.  Sydney begins to sing, It’ll all be fine. The dancer’s walk in pairs holding each other in place.  Then, upon final placement, the puppeteer leaves her model to stand on her own.  

Photo by Life Through the Lenses-Taylor Mendoza. Image courtesy of Whitney Waugh Dance.

Photo by Life Through the Lenses-Taylor Mendoza. Image courtesy of Whitney Waugh Dance.

Upon completion of the performance, Whitney opened it up for Q&A.  Many of the questions centered around timing.  Q: How long did you practice? A: Started in November 2015 on Act II and March 2016 on Act I. There was then discussion on process and influence.  Turns out many of the movement phrases developed from intense improvisation meetings, thus the explanation for the fluidity during the “synchronized” movements.  Whitney went on to explain that each of the dancer’s (through this improv workshop structure) developed actions and sequences so essentially bits of each dancers is alive in the performance.  

The Q&A gave much insight into artistic director, Whitney Waugh’s process.  The construction of the female body and its assignment of gender and place within society can be heavy. Act I clearly conveyed this emotion and weight.  As we progress into 2016 and beyond, it will be interesting to see how this company evolves and what other topics are brought to the dance floor.


W. Celeste Davis Stragand : Published author, showcased artist and Denver transplant, W. Celeste Davis Stragand is not new to the art world. Her passion for delving into the root of existence and movement will challenge and praise both choreographers and the audience.  A graduate of Texas A&M University, Celeste holds two bachelor of arts degrees, one in Chemistry and the other in English. She is also a graduate of Naropa University holding a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. A former national slam team poet, Celeste is a graduate of the Downtown Denver Partnership Leadership Program and sits on the American Institute of Architects Colorado board.  Her passion and enthusiasm for the kinetic arts will frolic and frenzy through the upcoming season of performances with many hopes for an encore!

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