With the solo Wilhelmina “Willie” Stark developed in the course of the “Sprungbrett” junior support programme at tanz nrw 2017, she, for the first time, pours her virtuosic abilities applied to House Dance, with which she won numerous battles and which made her a valuable teacher at tanzhaus nrw, into a stage play. She produces an exact gaze on bodies and the way they encounter the audience with her performance “Melanism”. Therefore, she attends to questions of “race” and “gender” that are central to her work as dancer, teacher and judge.

Mit dem Solo, das Wilhelmina »Willie« Stark im Rahmen des Nachwuchsförderprogramms »Sprungbrett« bei tanz nrw 2017 entwickelte, lässt sie ihre virtuosen Fähigkeiten in House Dance, mit denen sie zahlreiche Battles gewann und für die sie als Dozentin am tanzhaus nrw geschätzt wird, erstmals in ein Bühnenstück fließen. Mit ihrem Stück »Melanism« schafft sie einen genauen Blick auf ihren Körper und die Art, wie sie dem Publikum begegnet. Dabei geht sie Fragen von »race« und »gender« nach, die für ihre Arbeit als Tänzerin, Dozentin und Judge zentral sind.

What does it mean to be a woman? A black woman? What social or political implication gender has or should have in this society ? What is feminism for me? What does it represent? Why are the sex roles so predominant? This work is based on my experiences, my personal social and political experiences as a black woman. It is dealing with feminism and race. I dive into the clichés and stereotypes that society target/ uses for black women.

House dance is a club dance, born in the 70s 80s in New York city and Chicago. It is a social dance that is centered on the community and the
togetherness aspect. There are 2 main sources for this urban style to exist. One is where House Music takes its influence: Jazz, Soul, African music, Funk, Tap … The other one is the people, the different human beings part of this movement/style, their characteristics and origins, all those people being part of the same «house». There is a strong feeling of community, everybody is accepted regardless differences, social background, skin color … As if we were all one. Through my reading process, I was strongly drawn by the poem “I rise” by Maya Angelou, famous activist, poet, writer and feminist who died recently. I also realized that a lot of black women used this poem as support for speech, work or research. It is one of the most powerful text I’ve ever read.

Tanz NRW Sprungbrett:
05.05.2017 Tanzfaktur, Köln
06.05.2017 Tanzhaus NRW, Düsseldorf
07.05.2017 Pact Zolleverein, Essen
12.05.2017 Theaterim-ballsaal, Bonn
13.05.2017 Fabrik Heeder, Krefeld

12.11.2017 HipHop Tanzlabor, Bochum
12.-13.03.2018 Now&Next Tanzhaus NRW, Düsseldorf
18.09.2018 Pelzverkehr, Austria