A spe­cial an­niver­sary pro­gram of in­spir­ing women at Dance­works

Af­ter 25 years, Dance­works and found­ing artis­tic di­rec­tor Sarah Wil­bur are still in sync.

Milwaukee Magazine - - Content - BY LIND­SEY AN­DER­SON

PAINFUL. EM­POW­ER­ING. Hyper­sex­u­al­ized. In­fan­tiliz­ing. Those are the words Sarah Wil­bur uses to de­scribe Dis­clo­sure Tac­tics, a dance that shines a spot­light, lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively, on fe­male bod­ies and the phys­i­cal and emo­tional bag­gage they bear. She’ll be stag­ing it as part of Women Who Dance, a spe­cial Dance­works show cel­e­brat­ing the ven­er­a­ble Mil­wau­kee com­pany’s 25th an­niver­sary sea­son.

Wil­bur, Dance­works’ found­ing artis­tic di­rec­tor, first mounted Dis­clo­sure Tac­tics in 2012. But it’s hard not to think of the dance in re­la­tion to the #MeToo Move­ment that has been fill­ing air­waves and col­umn inches since late last year, when The New York Times and The New Yorker first re­ported on the sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault al­le­ga­tions lev­eled against me­dia mogul Har­vey We­in­stein.

“I think the com­par­i­son is prob­a­bly in­evitable,” Wil­bur says, ad­ding that she’s met many women who refuse to dance – of­ten be­cause they feel un­com­fort­able in their own skin. “There are so many women who can’t speak about what’s hap­pen­ing to them. I worry about the vi­o­lence hap­pen­ing in places like Mil­wau­kee ev­ery day. When I worked at Dance­works I saw it all the time, young girls who had com­pletely re­tracted into them­selves.”

But Wil­bur – who left Mil­wau­kee, and Dance­works, in 2007 to pur­sue ad­vanced de­grees in dance prac­tice and re­search and is cur­rently a re­search fel­low at Brown Univer­sity – is quick to point out that she doesn’t want the dance to alien­ate any­one. In fact, she sees it as an en­try point into a dis­cus­sion about how dance can help us think about our bod­ies, per­sonal au­ton­omy and gen­der dy­nam­ics.

And Dance­works ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Deb­o­rah Far­ris, who in­vited Wil­bur to stage Dis­clo­sure Tac­tics in Mil­wau­kee so that the former artis­tic di­rec­tor could per­form for a new gen­er­a­tion of fans, hopes the show will re­mind au­di­ence mem­bers of the art form’s trans­for­ma­tive power. “It seemed like a great way to cel­e­brate Dance­works’ 25th birth­day – es­pe­cially when I found out there were po­ten­tially 25 women in the piece,” she says.

Dance­works is also host­ing a se­ries of pre-show events to thank its sup­port­ers for 25 years of pa­tron­age. There’ll be a cham­pagne toast Fri­day night, March 2 (as well as a spe­cial talk-back af­ter the per­for­mance), a maker’s fair fea­tur­ing women-owned busi­nesses on Satur­day and a Brazil­ian samba les­son on Sun­day.

See Women Who Dance at Next Act The­atre Mar. 2-3 at 7:30 p.m. and Mar. 4 at 2:30 p.m.

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