By Sally Torbey
Emma’s Revolution in concert with Dance Visions next weekendUploaded: Mar 20, 2016
For almost a decade now, barring sick kids or a traveling husband, Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings find me at Cubberly Community Center at my favorite early morning modern dance/exercise class at Dance Visions. We are a small group, with a range of ages and dance experience, but we are all show up at 6:30am in our bleary-eyed state because of dance instructor and choreographer Laura Zweig. Other than coffee and my son’s blueberry pancakes, Laura’s class is absolutely the best reason to get out of bed before dawn. No matter how tired or cranky I am before dance class, by the end of the hour, life is wonderful and full of endless possibilities.
In addition to being a dance instructor and choreographer, Laura is a preschool teacher, political activist, parent educator, non-profit board member, parent, and as of a few months ago, grandmother. She brings her breadth and depth of life experience to her art. Through music and dance, she raises our consciousness, feeds our spirits, and inspires us to move with joy and appreciation. Her choreography is graceful, beautiful, thought-provoking and accessible.
Next weekend you can experience Laura’s choreography for yourself, and you don’t even have to get up early. Laura is collaborating with the activist band, Emma’s Revolution, in a concert that features the band’s music along with the multi-generational dancers of Dance Visions performing Laura’s choreography to many of the band’s original songs. This is the third time that Laura and Emma’s Revolution have collaborated. I had the privilege of performing in the first concert, the joy of watching two of my daughters perform in the second, and I am very much looking forward to watching them again, along with the rest of the company, in this third performance next weekend.
Pat Humphries and Sandy O. are the singer/songwriter duo that comprise Emma’s Revolution. Right after 9/11, they wrote the song, “Peace, Salaam, Shalom”, and performed it at the first peace rally in New York City after the tragedy, leading thousands of people through the streets in song. This powerful song has been a theme song of gatherings of social consciousness ever since. Their music is inspiring and heartfelt, and they perform it with humor and wit.
Laura describes the experience of choreographing and performing with the band as an opportunity for “my activist self to be one with my artist self and my teacher self. Their beautiful melodies and harmonies, and their touching and poignant words convey messages, ideas, and ideals that need to be heard. Through dance I’m trying to express those messages in a different way… and inspire my students, my adult dancers, and my audience to participate in the peaceful revolution for social justice.”
Emma’s Revolution takes its name from the late Emma Goldman, the anarchist, feminist, and fervent advocate of free speech, but also a free spirit who enjoyed life. Emma describes herself as being “ the most untiring and the gayest” at the dances. To her critics who claimed that dancing was frivolous and unworthy of her and others committed to “the Cause”, Emma responded, “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution!” Emma understood the power of dance and song in promoting self-expression, the beauty and the goodness of life, and the sense that change is possible. How fitting that a band named in her honor takes this unique opportunity to share with their audience the extraordinarily special experience of their songs and Laura Zweig’s choreography in concert.