Rebecca Davis Company Dances for Darfur

By SAMANTHA HUNGERFORD

The plight of the downtrodden people of Darfur and a ballet performed by a professional modern dance company are not two issues that are immediately associated with one another. Yet those very subjects will be brought together at Allegheny by the Rebecca Davis Dance Company’s performance of their socially-charged ballet, “Darfur.”

On Saturday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium, the multi-media modern ballet “Darfur” will be performed as a fundraising benefit to provide relief for victims of genocide.  Although the performance is open-admission, all profits from T-shirt sales will be donated to Global Grassroots, the non-profit organization geared towards social change for women that is associated with the Rebecca Davis Dance Company.

The Rebecca Davis Dance Company is coming to Allegheny.
The Rebecca Davis Dance Company is coming to Allegheny.

In addition to the performance, the founder of the dance company, Rebecca Davis herself, will be giving a lecture discussion on Friday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. in Quigley Auditorium. The aim of this lecture is to explain how Davis got involved in making these meaningful performances that are a ground-breaking fusion of activism and art.

When Jessie Coven, ‘10, heard about “Darfur” she knew that it would be the perfect production to bring to Allegheny.

“I think what really drew me to that idea was because I know how Allegheny college is and realize that there is a passion for others who are  less fortunate than us,” Coven said.

This was the idea that sparked Coven’s initiative, sending her around Allegheny to gain support from various campus organizations and clubs such as ABC, the Dean of Students Office, and finally the ASG class of 2011 who had funded a similar event, Invisible Children, last year.

As a senior, Coven wanted to see a professional dance company brought to Allegheny in her final year as a student here. “We’ve had companies come here but not on a really large scale,” Coven said.

Jesse Horan, ASG senator and 2011 class president, agreed with Coven’s wish to see a company brought to campus. “It’s to raise social awareness about southern Sudan and Darfur through the performing arts, both of which, both Jessie any myself, are really passionate about,” Horan said.

Hopes for the success of the performance are high among those who helped bring the company to campus.

“I think they will appeal to all kinds of students because they’re very highly technical, these people are ballet trained,” said Eleanor Weisman, Assistant Professor of Dance and Movement Studies. “They have, you know, real technique, to support their performances. And then [we were] so impressed with how meaningful their themes were that they’re exploring,” Weisman was also one of the main forces in securing the Rebecca Davis Dance Company, having initially suggested the group to Coven among a list of other possible candidates.

Both Coven and Weisman hope that the “Darfur” performance will not only raise awareness about genocide in southern Sudan but will rouse student interest about Allegheny’s own performing arts.

“I was also kind of encouraged by that to help validate the idea of the arts on campus. You know, we go to a liberal arts college but our arts aren’t very highlighted,” Coven said.

As Allegheny’s first self-designed dance and movement studies major, she hopes to one day see more appreciation and respect for the arts among the student body. Weisman seems to share this sentiment.

“I hope that they will see that dance can be more than entertainment, that performance art dance can inspire, teach lessons, make us think about the human condition and not just be about showing off tricks,.” Weisman said.