by Bri Kilroy | photography by Jade Butler
An African American woman named Henrietta Lacks deserves medicine’s unconditional gratitude for providing an immortalized cell line that could be used in medical research to discover an elixir for polio and test potential cures for fatal diseases; however, we don’t hear her name harmonizing with the standard list of people we credit to improving the future. Lacks’ cells were taken and utilized for medical research while she was undergoing treatment for cervical cancer without her consent, and strides in medicine would go on to earn praise without accreditation to her.
Subjects that are often overlooked (the story of Lacks), misunderstood (autism and other mental conflicts) or avoided (threat of bullying) are given a much-deserved spotlight to explore these forms of diversity in a new manner that doesn’t involve a dry Public Service Announcement. Grand Rapids Ballet’s 2018 production of MOVEMEDIA: Diversity is addressing these topics and others through breathtaking choreography and astounding visual stimuli.
“MOVEMEDIA takes what you think you know about traditional ballet and turns it on its head,” GRB’s marketing director, Michael Erickson, said. “You’re going to see something you don’t traditionally see in the ballet.”
The absence of tutus, classical music and assigned gender roles distances MOVEMEDIA from the typical definition of “ballet,” but stunning choreography designed by dancers from around the world and moving performances by GRB’s talented professionals lend no hesitation to dubbing it a production by Michigan’s only professional ballet company. What separates this from well-known shows like The Nutcracker and Swan Lake is its conscious effort to annihilate the boundaries of expectation.
GRB performed the first part of MOVEMEDIA: Diversity in February. The show not just touched on, but completely grasped the subject of gender fluidity and left audience members yearning for more. This month’s production, MOVEMEDIA: Diversity II (March 23-25), addresses diversity in the forms of differences, injustices and acceptance through work by choreographers Oliver Weavers, Uri Sands and Danielle Rowe. The full production is made up of three performances, each spanning up to 25 minutes, featuring stunning choreography, visual projection and atmospheric music.
During this time where it is both bold and empowering to address diversity, explore it in a different way through GRB’s production of MOVEMEDIA: Diversity II, and allow yourself to sit back and embrace the wonderful differences around us.
Tickets for MOVEMEDIA: Diversity II are available at GRballet.com.
What: MOVEMEDIA: Diversity II
Where: Peter Martin Wege Theatre, 341 Ellsworth Ave. SW
When: March 23 & 24, 7:30 p.m. and March 25, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $46 at GRballet.com.