'Woman' fuses dance and theater

Thursday, December 11, 2008 | 5:15 p.m. CST
Sierra Terrance, Becky Walker and Nicole Beasley rehearse for "Woman". The one-hour show will include performances by The Dragon Flies Belly Dance Company, Moon Belly Dance Ensemble and Outer Limits Hip-Hop Team.

COLUMBIA — Kandi Grossman is an artist, a dancer, storyteller and a creator. With a master’s degree in women studies, Grossman is the artistic director and founder of  Moon Belly Dance Studio. Under her eye, "Woman," a fusion of hip-hop, modernism, belly-dancing, jazz and theater will be presented this Saturday.

"A woman is so complex and paradoxical — strong, vulnerable, creative, sensual, humble," Grossman said. "What I wanted to do is portray the essence of her, as well as to show the real side of women: delicate and raw."

If You Go

WHAT: "Woman," a fusion of belly-dancing, hip-hop, jazz and theater.

WHEN: Doors open 7:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: The Blue Note, 17 N. Ninth St.

TICKETS: $7 students, $10 others, can be purchased at

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The one-hour show will include performances by The Dragon Flies Belly Dance Company, Moon Belly Dance Ensemble and Outer Limits Hip-Hop Team.

The dances are divided into three acts — sex, body and God — all of which Grossman described as unique and powerful.

"The (act on sex) tries to recreate and pull together the feelings and different dimensions of women: flirty, sexy, jealous, envious, sensual," Grossman said.

Her favorite dances are in the body act. "They cover multiple topics and situations that women face along their lives such as the burden of motherhood, struggles with depression, eating disorders, as well as the challenge of overcoming personal fears," Grossman said. "They are very intimate, deep, short solos, and what is really intense is the fact that the dancers are telling the public, 'Hey, this is my story, the problem I've struggled with.'" 

The third act, in Grossman's view, is the most abstract one. "It symbolizes a woman's search for God," Grossman said. "I guess what's at the back of it is the feminine point of view in seeking out divine understanding.

"Western civilization has always being exposed to the overarching male God, and for me it is the thought of having missed the figure of a 'mom God' that makes this desperate search for understanding so deep," she said.

"Woman" also blends other aspects of the arts. Costumes worn by the dancers are exquisite and elaborated with unique textiles. All 25 of them have been designed and created for each of the performers in the studio by a local artist and friend, Suzanne Van Sickle. "They are amazing, beautiful and local," Grossman said.

In the act about sex, for example, dancers wear sexy belts and bras over pants and shirts meant to imitate nudity. "The dancers are willing to take the challenge and aren't afraid to expose themselves to the audience," Grossman said.

For the final scene, the modern costumes are Indian-inspired and incorporate fiber arts; some dancers will wear torn sweaters.

The soundtrack for "Woman" is another element in the production's mosaic. The public will hear a range including jazz, hip-hop, Moroccan music, the Beatles and Beyonce.

"What is really interesting and moving is the local dimension of it all," Grossman said of production. "Seeing the members of the community  involved and putting so much effort into it is touching to the viewers. They have put their work together to make this happen, all for the love of art and creation."

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