University Park, IL,
10:47 AM

A Historical Dance Tribute to Women's Empowerment

While working on a dance she choreographed during her practicum studies, Isabella "Izy" Hollingsworth, contemplated her own tribute to the #MeToo Movement.

“It was really important to me that we recognize some of the ugly parts of the past. In the last few years, women have brought forth an international conversation about sexual assault, abuse, and harassment,” said Hollingsworth, the first student to graduate with a minor in Dance at Governors State University, who continues to work with the GSU Dance Company.

Using the lyrics of pop star Kesha's 2017 "Praying,'' Hollingsworth's piece by the same name reflects the strength of women and their ability to rebuild after trauma. Kesha's sexual abuse lawsuit against producer Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald "Dr. Luke" ignited an international uproar decrying how sexual assault is handled in the music industry and by the media.

Hollingworth's piece will debut on April 16 as the GSU Dance Company celebrates 50 Years of Female Empowerment, from Tina Turner to Beyonce. She said the initial assignment was a defining moment as a Governors State student.

“The opportunity to choreograph for this show was the most thoughtful and powerful assignment of my undergraduate career,”  Hollingsworth said.

The show, a collaboration of several pieces, explores the triumphs of women’s empowerment movements through an ensemble of students and local choreographers dancing through the decades to examine women’s history.

Megan Lindsay, the show's director, set out to explore women’s struggle in light of the woman suffrage centennial in 2019 and landmark anniversaries for women’s rights across the globe in 2020.

“GSU is celebrating our own history during the 50-year anniversary and our recent strides in the newly created dance minor by exploring how artists have created paths for each other,” said Lindsay, a Theatre and Performance Studies (TAPS) adjunct faculty member.

Taking inspiration from artists like Lesley Gore, who sang the feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me” in the 1960’s and paving the way for Ariana Grande to say “God Is a Woman” decades later, the show seeks to support modern feminist movements.

“Our show features student choreography crafted through the curriculum to pay tribute to the #MeToo and #TimesUp social movement,” Lindsay said.

As lead creator of Governors State’s new dance minor, Lindsay is proud the competitive program is living out its mission.

“Since 2014, my dance students have expressed interest in pursuing a dance minor. Through collaborative work with Dr. Patrick Santoro, I created the curriculum and syllabi which was officially approved in the fall of 2019.”

Through practicum and extra-curricular hours, GSU students and community members have crafted their own vision of women’s empowerment through dance.

Autumn Price, a senior Sociology major and dance minor, is the current president of the company and recognizes that the individual work put into the production comes together to tell the story of women everywhere.

“As artists, we have the opportunity to showcase the different sides of women’s empowerment: being unapologetic about sass, confident in declaring that we are phenomenal women, supportive of each other’s struggle or painful journey and embracing all parts that make us a woman and everything we do,” said Price.

“In the end, we are paying tribute to women all over.”

From Tina to Beyonce': 50 Years of Female Empowerment will debut on Thursday April 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts.