Woman Warriors, Unite!

March 18, 2012

When have we seen a more forceful pack of women onstage than the fierce warriors of the Martha Graham Dance Company in Chronicle? There have been powerful women at Ailey, at STREB, and in early Twyla Tharp days. But this piece, especially with the magnificent Fang-Yi Sheu in the lead at the Graham company gala last Wednesday, made me feel that when women band together, they can accomplish anything. Fang-Yi holds steely, loving strength inside her as she scoops up her dress like a call to arms. (She was great in Clytemnestra too.) The other women sprint or bound across the stage or otherwise chop through space, all animated by Sheu’s galvanizing presence. Graham’s choreography escalates in pattern and momentum. Design and fervor are united. Leader and followers are united. Dancing and choreography are united. This is how Graham envisioned women fighting for justice, in 1936.

The Occupy Wall Street movement put a ballet dancer atop a bull for their emblem. Maybe if they’d put Fang-Yi Sheu there, the movement would still be going strong. —Wendy Perron