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Dance Ensemble explores women’s rights through movement in “Hey Lilith”

Dance Ensemble’s production this semester explores the story of Lilith, the historical figure missing from most narratives of Adam and Eve. Photo by Shabana Gupta.
Dance Ensemble’s production this semester explores the story of Lilith, the historical figure missing from most narratives of Adam and Eve. Photo by Shabana Gupta.

Dance Ensemble will debut their fall performance “Hey Lilith” next weekend, a choreographed interpretation of the story of Lilith. The dancers and director Celeste Miller have worked together to work on this production’s choreographed storytelling, stemming from the ancient story about Lilith, Adam and Eve. This piece reveals the unknown story before Adam and Eve and brings in modern questions of women’s rights.

“It is based on a very ancient historical figure, Lilith, who through some recounts was Adam’s first wife,” said Miller.

“There are some stories saying that before Eve, there was another female whose name was Lilith, and they question whether Lilith was actually formed or made first and then came Adam, or Adam and then Lilith … They did not get along because Adam insisted on being the boss, and she said ‘You are not the boss, we are equal.’”

The dancers actively engage in how they would describe the story of Lilith and their own inner Lilith through their movements. They decided to incorporate the home appliances and objects from their daily lives.

“At the beginning of the process, we create our movement inspired by the prompt. Celeste has directed the movements. In the first week, she would give us the prompt, and from there, she took pieces that she was inspired by and created this,” said Lizzy Hinman ’20.

The dancers show different dance movements to describe the themes of the history of patriarchy and gender roles and interact with the audience to deliver them inside the story of Lilith.

“I am very intrigued about that story that places a defiant female who says no to that kind of dominance, and why her story is forgotten, hidden not told,” Miller said.

The dancers are passionate about the piece. In the performance, dancers incorporate both freedom and unity in their moves. They would play the same movements, but each dancer has own characteristics and uniqueness.

“I adore it, I have never done a Dance Ensemble [production]. I think with “Hey Lilith,” there are so many important themes that I love exploring. Being alone and being a powerful woman … I really like it because it makes me think about strong powerful women in my life, and how they’ve inspired me,” Hinman said.

This year, recent Grinnell College graduate Naomi Worob ’19 has been working as an assistant director of the production.

“Always with dance ensemble, the pieces would feel like huge research projects, investigation, and exploration to me. And so, this semester with “Hey Lilith,” we’ve really been diving deep into [the] story of Lilith, but also pulling that into ourselves and questioning where does … Lilith exist within our own lives, and how do we see those challenge those and move forward?” said Worob.

“When I was a student, I was in Dance Ensemble and then I was choreographing and making theater pieces and performance on my own, but the projects I was doing were never the scale of Dance Ensemble and did not have as many people or as many moving parts. It was always me doing setting, designing and choreographing. And so, here, it’s been an experience for me to zoom out on what I was doing as a student and see how the same work would be done professionally,” Worob said.

Worob says her experience as a Grinnell College student has added more complexity and beauty to this piece. Through this production of “Hey Lilith”, Miller hopes to not only question the patriarchy and women’s rights, but also emphasize the importance of movements over the words.

“The movement is as important as the words. And sometimes I think the culture we live in, for me specifically in the United States academic culture, the word dominates kind of over the movement. The work I create is that the movement is as important as the word, and sometimes the movement challenges the word,” Miller said.

The performance will take place in Flanagan Theatre, on Thursday Nov. 21, Friday Nov. 22 and Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets will be available for free at the Bucksbaum box office beginning Monday, Nov. 18.

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