Sarah Parker grew up in what she describes as a matriarchal household. Her grandmother had ten sisters and they each ran successful businesses. Parker always had the impression that women could do anything they wanted to do. This is exactly the line of thinking that led her to start Evolve Productions and Continuum Dance Theater (CDT), all while working full-time in corporate sales. She says, “My philosophy is that anyone can do anything they put their mind to.”
Over the years, Parker was frequently asked why her dance company employs all women. Her latest show, EMPIRE, is largely a response to that question. In taking that idea further, she and the company also took time to explore how women have built their personal empires.
In each of the four sections of the hour-long show, CDT studied at least a dozen women they deemed successful, from extraordinary mothers to media icons like Oprah Winfrey, and late, great author, Maya Angelou. They even looked into the past, at Cleopatra and Greek and Roman women who stood out.
Section one, “Mother by Nature,” investigates women who lead families as well as women who give birth to concepts or businesses. In the second section, “The Boardroom,” Parker was interested in females in charge, those who sit at the “head of the table.” The company also delved into the nature of competition and how that can serve us.
The group spent much of their time on the third part, “Identity.” Parker says, “This is the section that we had the most discussion and intimate feedback for.” In light of several recent Pittsburgh events, including PrideFest and the All Butch Fashion show at the Andy Warhol Museum, the dancers examined gender roles and women who are comfortable with their sexual identity.
Lastly, “Hail the Queen” is a section of fantasy, based on a woman’s desire to rule the world. The group fantasized what it would be like to be queen for a day, ”or longer,” Parker jokes. This portion of the show acknowledges the incredible female leaders in our society.
As for the music, Parker has chosen a diverse soundscape. She wanted to “set a tone for each individual section,” but also choose work that compelled her to move. Included are instrumentalists, spoken word, background noises, and even some recognizable pop music.
Off the Wall Performing Arts Center in Carnegie will host the show. Parker says the theater is an intimate space with limited seating. Pre-purchased tickets are encouraged (link below). The center is the perfect venue for this particular show, as the owners have dedicated 2014 (and 2013) as “The Year/s of the Woman,” featuring female playwrights and directors. The owners also work with female scenic and lighting designers, and regularly employ women as part of their staff.
EMPIRE by Continuum Dance Theater and guest artist LaMar Williams
When: August 7th – 9th, 2014 at 8:00 p.m., and August 10th, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.
Where: Off The Wall Performing Arts Center – 25 W. Main Street in Carnegie, PA
Cost and Tickets: Click HERE