Joshua L. Peugh and the dancers of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance have spent the last three weeks working on a very special project. They have collaborated with the young women of Girls, Inc. to create a new choreographic work. The project will culminate in a public performance of a brand new choreographic work titled Gal Friday at NorthPark Center's NorthCourt this Saturday, August 6 at 3 PM. The event is FREE and open to the public. The project has inspired new art by Peugh and nurtures creativity and passion for the arts in the young women of Girls, Inc. by affording them direct involvement with the creative process and access to professional artists.
Here, our dancers have taken a few minutes to reflect on their experience with the strong, smart, and bold young women of Girls Inc.
Dancing with the girls at Girls Inc. was a blast. The girls are so creative and full of energy; each unafraid to let their unique personality shine. Beyond the fun dance moves we shared, these girls inspired me with wisdom and confidence beyond their age. Many of them shared that one of their favorite things about being a girl is the opportunity to prove that girls can do anything. It is easy to see gender inequality as a negative part of being a woman, but they see it as an exciting challenge.
We played a lot of movement generation games with the girls to not only share with them our love of dance, but bring them into the creative process we use in DCCD rehearsals, and in our last class with the girls, we showed them rehearsal videos of our progress on Gal Friday. Watching the girls watch Gal Friday was so much fun. They were so excited to see some of the steps they had created in the piece. Many unique voices have contributed to the creation of Gal Friday, and I think that makes it an incredibly special piece. I am very excited to share it!
This creation process has been a unique and especially exciting one because of our opportunity to work with the vibrant young girls of Girls, Inc. We knew very little of what to expect on the first day; would the girls be receptive and curious, or would we need to push very hard for that cooperation and openness? As the two hours of dancing passed, the girls grew comfortable with us, and we began to see lights of creativity shine through. During our two hours together, I saw each and every one of them (a few with a bit more coercion than others) burst with self confidence. I was reminded that dance can do so much more for young girls than just keep them busy or start a career. Dancing fills youth with joy and a positive sense of self. I realize now that there's nothing better I could have done growing up, and sharing the gift of dance with girls who otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity is beautiful beyond measure.
The experience at Girls Inc. was fulfilling and gratifying. It reaffirmed my belief that dance is an extraordinary medium which connects, inspires, and transforms people of all ages. In the short two-hour visits that we had with the girls, I witnessed the power that movement had in bringing individual personalities and creative voices forward. You cannot hide when you move your body; you’re exposed and vulnerable to judgment and criticism. What was so rewarding about the time with the girls was watching each young artist’s confidence and support for one another grow as we moved together. They were encouraged to contribute individually to the whole, and as a result, felt important and valued—especially when they could reflect on the process and their contributions that made it possible to choreograph a short dance phrase. Thanks to the creative, collaborative effort of the girls, DCCD built multiple phrases and worked them into the company rehearsals of Gal Friday.
The most moving moment for me was the last day at Girls Inc. when we showed them footage of the company rehearsals and their faces lit up—eyes widened—jaws dropped—when they recognized “their move” a company dancer performed. Girls Inc.’s ultimate goal is “to empower girls to become strong, smart and bold women who positively contribute to our communities and who understand, value and assert their rights.” Our time with the girls did just that, and through dance—through moving and sharing our unique characters in a supportive, positive environment—I am hopeful that these girls will carry forward a newfound creative conviction that will embolden them to discover new potentials as young women.