Columbia College Chicago's Dance Center Presents VOICES OF STRENGTH, 9/13-15

Columbia College Chicago's Dance Center Presents VOICES OF STRENGTH, 9/13-15

The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago opens its 2012–13 season with the U.S. debut of Voices of Strength, two programs featuring four works by five independent African women choreographers. Performances are September 13–15 at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

Voices of Strength: Two Programs of Dance and Theater by Women from Africa is a two-program "mini-festival" celebrating the stylistic diversity and talent of African women artists. From dance rooted in tradition to cutting-edge performance that makes satirical use of classical conventions, the five choreographers employ humor, irony, poignancy and power to reference personal obstacles as well as political and social themes, as they articulate women's struggles toward empowerment. The artists on this program have received numerous awards in Africa and Europe but have had little exposure in the United States.

Program A, which includes Correspondances by Kettly Noël (Haiti/Mali) and Nelisiwe Xaba (South Africa) and Quartiers Libres by Nadia Beugré (Cote d'Ivoire), will be performed Thursday and Friday, September 13 and 14, at 8 p.m.

- Correspondances is a lively and sophisticated duet that is pArt Theatre, part dance and part storytelling. Noël and Xaba come together for a raucous conversation on diverse subjects-ranging from the superficial to the profound-that address the intimate fabric of friendship while exploring themes of race, culture and gender.

- Are there spaces where we may not go? Places we do not have the right to explore? And if we cross the boundaries of forbidden spaces, what happens to us? With Quartiers Libres (a French expression meaning "free territory," "limitless space"), choreographer Beugré explores these questions in a raw and unbridled performance in which she confronts and resists that which seeks to oppress.

Program B, which includes Sombra by Maria Helena Pinto (Mozambique) and Madame Plaza by Bouchra Ouizguen (Morocco), will be performed Saturday, September 15 at 3 and 8 p.m.

- Sombra (Shadow) is a stark and poignant solo that gives voice and light to the hidden women of our societies. In a harrowing landscape of overturned buckets, and with a bucket on top of her head both obscuring her vision and keeping the viewer from seeing her face, Pinto imagines women who are central to life-those who idealize, imagine, create, construct, plan, organize and execute-but exist in shadow.

- Madame Plaza, performed with three traditional "Aïta" vocalists (live) whose custom includes guttural wailing and incantation, is a powerful merging of bodies with song. With touching directness and surprising humor, Madame Plaza brings forth an essential freedom of the body.

There will be a post-performance conversation with the Program A artists Thursday, September 13, free to ticket holders.

The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago is the city's leading presenter of contemporary dance, showcasing artists of regional, national and international significance. The Dance Center's 2012–13 season continues with Kota Yamazaki/Fluid hug-hug (Sept. 27–29), Gallim Dance (Oct. 11–13), The Seldoms (Oct. 25–27), Double Edge Theatre (co-presented with the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department Jan. 18–19), zoe | juniper (Feb. 14–16), Stephen Petronio Company (March 7–9), Chicago Moving Company (March 21–23) and Delfos Danza Contemporánea (Apr. 4–6).

Voices of Strength takes place Thursday–Saturday, September 13–15 at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. Program A performances are Thursday and Friday, September 13 and 14 at 8 p.m.; Program B performances are Saturday, September 15 at 3 and 8 p.m.

Single tickets are $26–30; subscribers who order tickets to three or more performances from the 2012–13 season save 20%. All programming is subject to change. The theatre is accessible to people with disabilities. For information, call 312-369-8330 or visit

Photo credit: Eric Boudet