This past Saturday, April 14, Skirball Center for the Performing Arts hosted “Love Heals All Wounds” –– an expressive dance performance that highlighted current social issues. An evening-length work from the group Movement Art Is, abbreviated to MAI, the show focused on love as a healing mechanism for problems like xenophobia and police brutality that plague our country today.
Directed by dancers John Boogz and Lil Buck, the group performed various dance forms, including jookin’, a Memphis-based street style, to portray the struggles of the African-American community. As the dancers isolated, popped and locked, the audience became mesmerized by the intense movements accompanied by hard-hitting and relevant topics.
“Love Heals All Wounds” began and ended with spoken word, performed by one of the female performers. Throughout the show, she eloquently intercepted intense bouts of dancing with insightful verses. The combination of spoken word and dance allowed the audience to understand the issues through two separate mediums, which was an evocative experience. In this respect, the audience could both see and hear the messages the performers worked so hard to portray.
Standout performances included a pair of men, who constantly phad their hands raised as a symbol of deference to police officers. During a notable monologue about female empowerment, a prominent female dancer moved effortlessly to the voices of Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey in the background. Additionally, four dancers flowed across the floor in prison outfits as statistics about the mass incarceration of black people in the United States were listed.
Aside from social commentary, the show included verses about each of Earth’s four elements, followed by a dance in a specific color, style and beat to convey that element. This discussion of the elements alluded to talk of climate change and depletion of Earth’s resources. The audience watched the dancers transform into water, earth, fire and air through loose and fluid motions. Dancers swayed like air, dominated like fire, strengthened like earth and flowed like water. The transformation of human forms into elemental entities personified the issues of the planet and made them issues of man instead.
In the final moments of the performance, the small cast broke out into a dance circle as each cast member showed off their moves individually while the audience clapped along. The performance ended with a call for love, invoking the title of the show by implying love is the only thing that can heal all of our country’s wounds.
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