“We Are” A Dance Inspired by the Poetry of Youth in Detention

UM-Flint’s Department of Theatre and Dance will be presenting a newly choreographed work by Dance Lecturer Emma Davis during the Spring Dance Concert, The Written Word, April 17, 18, 19, in the UM-Flint Theatre. The dance, entitled We Are, is based on poetry written by young women at Genesee County’s youth detention center as part of the Buckham/GVRC Share Art Project.

The dance choreography follows the themes presented by five poems, which are projected onto the stage during the performance. Four different sections of the piece explore the girls’ journeys as “statistics,” their time in detention, and their hopes, dreams, and futures beyond incarceration. In developing the piece, Davis worked with university students to explore movements that spoke to each poem’s narrative. The process was a delicate balance between finding the right moves that highlight and embody each girl’s voice without taking away from their message. The piece also utilizes movements that Davis, who also teaches dance at GVRC as part of the Share Art Project, taught directly to the young women in detention.

The choreographic process started with a class discussion about the poetry pieces. Since university students hadn’t worked directly with youth at GVRC, Davis felt it was imperative for them to understand the girls’ characteristics and behaviors to better help share their stories. From reading the poetry, students were able to understand the difficult situations the young women experienced. At the same time, more positive poems about self-identify and personal beauty demonstrated the empowerment the girls at GVRC found through the arts, poetry, and a supportive group of females.

While the dance does not intend to speak for the young women, Davis hopes to propel their words while inspiring positivity. This portion of the production also involved work by several of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program, including Shelley Spivack, Director of the Share Art Project, Traci Currie as the leader of Spoken Word, and Shelby Newport who directed costuming.

Davis recently received a New Leaders Grant from the MCACA which will allow her to continue this dance project with the GVRC in the upcoming year.

For more information contact:
Shelley Spivack
Director, Buckham/GVRC Share Art Project