Black-centered dance performance highlights social, racial issues

By Cierra Lemott, Multimedia Reporter

A dancer from “CIRCLES: going in” took the stage on Friday, Feb. 10. The show, a full-length dance celebrating #BlackGirlMagic, was held at 1306 S. Michigan Ave.

With twirls, leaps, kicks, hair swings and arm movement galore, Staycee Pearl and Herman Pearl brought “CIRCLES: going in” to Columbia’s Dance Center, bringing a glimpse of popular culture to the stage.

Starring five dancers, the performance featured an original soundtrack and dance that “represents a lineage” of Staycee Pearl, co-artistic director of STAYCEE PEARL dance project & Soy Sos, as well as PearlArts Studios.

The goal of the project and the company is to “create Black-centered dance works along with meaningful community engagement.”

The 55-minute dance performance consisted of various dance styles, including, but not limited to, hip-hop, contemporary and majorette. The dance program included visual arts to accompany the original score by sound designer and Co-Artistic Director of PearlArts Studios Herman Pearl.

Meredith Sutton, interim director fo the dance presenting series at the Dance Center, said the performance has been on the Dance Center’s radar for quite some time now.

“There was quite a lot of excitement generating about the work, how it was articulated, how the dancers were really just fully embodying these cultural, socio-political foundations so beautifully,” Sutton said.

“It’s been a journey,” Staycee Pearl said. In the middle of COVID-19, she said they held rehearsals on Zoom.

Herman Pearl said putting the soundtrack together was also not an obstacle-free path.

“We got some yeses, some nos, some ignoring,” Herman Pearl said about acquiring collaborations for sound during the post performance discussion.

Ultimately, the original soundtrack consisted of several Black artists from across the country, Including Yah Lioness, Madame Dolores, DotGov, Kilamanzego, Kha’DJ, Geña, and Meejah.

Despite for the pandemic, the performance was able to come to life, paying tribute to Blackness and depicted social issues.

A major scene in the performance was a fighting scene. All of the dancers gathered to one corner of the stage to throw punches and kicks to an invisible enemy. In this scene, one dancer stops fighting, calming down another performer, which causes a chain reaction.

“We speak to social and racial issues in our work,” Staycee Pearl said. “I’m interested in having uncomfortable moments.