The Warriors Dance Team will be taking their name literally as they battle sexism and oppression through movement, music, poetry and comedy during their annual performance showcase “I Am A Woman.”
In addition to original Warriors dance numbers, the night will feature performances by New Paltz’s all-female a capella group The Sexy Pitches, dance team FOCUS, musical theater group Curtain Call, Urban Lyrics and TBA Improv.
The Warriors Dance Team Co-President and fourth-year graphic design major Mary-Anne Ramirez said during the show’s early planning stages, the eight-member team decided they wanted to focus on the positive stories told about women, as well as the struggles women endure.
“We collaborated on dance, poetry, music, acting and stories of women in history,” Ramirez said. “We looked at important figures and wanted to introduce stories people may not know.”
This year, The Warriors will perform a piece on victim shaming, using choreography and song lyrics to convey the struggles victims who are blamed often face.
During past productions, guest groups were assigned themes to convey through their performances. This year, however, The Warriors allowed them more leniency, letting them choose their own messages. The Warriors also usually connect parts of their performance to a recent news story.
This year, Urban Lyrics plan to perform a piece about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani 15-year-old who, in 2012, was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for speaking out about girls’ right to be educated. Post-recovery, Malala is now an education activist, well-known internationally by her first name alone and has delivered speeches about equality from United Nations headquarters, according to BBC.
In the past, The Warriors’ performances during their annual “I Am A Woman” show were deeply emotional and poignant in contrast to this year’s numbers, fourth-year English major and Warriors’ Co-President Cristina Battista said.
“This year is a more fun, lighthearted show,” Ramirez said. “There are still emotional pieces, but not as intense. You want everyone to leave there feeling positive.”
Ramirez said similar to last year’s show, this year’s will feature dramatic entrances of modern-day women, with music from artists like Ke$ha and Lady Gaga, to help set the show’s tone.
Between The Warriors’ original choreography and performances from guest groups, there is more diversity overall at this year’s “I Am A Woman” showcase, third-year public relations major and Warriors’ Vice President, Alexa Gold, said.
One unifying theme that spans across The Warriors’ numbers is sexual liberation, illustrated with a burlesque-style twist, Gold said.
The Warriors said they exemplify this theme with a number that involves all eight members, clad in fishnets, sequins and corsets, slinking and shimmying on four chairs.
The number highlights two different sides or levels of sexuality, starting with a more modest, broadway-jazz style, and eventually evolving into modern-day hip-hop movements.
Gold said the number, which begins with the retro-jazz tinged song “Right Now” by The Pussycat Dolls and finishes with the syncopated beats of Beyoncé’s hit “Partition,” is like turning moves by Bob Fosse into ones inpsired by Beyoncé, celebrating all types of sexuality.
Overall, Gold said she wants the audience to leave with an awareness for certain issues and different perspectives, with an “inspired outlook.”
Battista agreed, and said The Warriors want audience members to feel uplifted when they leave through the doors of McKenna Theatre again.
“We want them to feel like they can go out and make a difference,” she said.
“I Am A Woman” will run on Thursday, April 10 at 7 p.m. in McKenna Theatre.