By Megan Koch
"Who am I?"
Urban Culture Cabaret is an innovative collaboration between multiple art forms, including: Spoken word, poetry, live music, physical theatre, and many forms of contemporary and hip hop dance.
The bold start is led by Poetry Slam artist Erin Dingle. We hear her heated opinions on the female menstruation cycle; but what strikes me is a brief mention of breast cancer, and the impact it has on her perspective of her own menstruation. Instantly, an undercurrent of sadness arises from this humorous piece.
The poems continue to grow darker as we are led through spoken words by such Calgarian artists as Cobra Collins, Veniece Tedeschini, and Jeremy Park. They speak about body image, self worth, societal pressures, beauty, suicide, addictions, abuse, and bullying: all aspects of everyone's life, at one point or another, that weave common threads binding us to the strangers that surround us in everyday urban life. Throughout the piece, the poems contrast with segments of many styles of hip hop, danced to feel good music.
The dancers, of all ages, had me on the edge of my seat, tempting me to get up and dance. These pieces embody art and dance in an urban culture; the idea of people coming together and creating something through which to connect, feel good, and send a message. What resonated with me overall were the reoccurring questions, "Who am I?", "Who are you?", "Is this me?". These questions ring in my mind as I watch first year UofC dancer Waverly Spratt move with an impressively strong and fierce presence to the words that are filling the air around her. To have such profound words about beauty and society spoken, makes me take into account my own self image and ask myself whether I am always my truest self. Sometimes we need to step back and ask "Who am I?".
I found the integration of poetry and dance very captivating; in part because, most of the time, I dance to express through movement what I have no words for. In this case the movement embodied the words, without the words there would be no movement.
This interdependence between poetry and dance creates a relationship between art disciplines that I have never been exposed to before. Through it, Fluid and Urban Culture Cabaret continue to innovate and expand the dance community in greater ways.