A University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) professor organized and presented an evening of poetry, dance and theatre Saturday that aimed to spread a message of love, awareness and acceptance.
“UMBRA: Fully Shaded” is a project created by Susan Moser, an adjunct instructor of dance, that uses the arts to express a consistent theme of unity regardless of race, gender, religion or sociopolitical background. Every aspect of the project was created by performers — namely UC students and local artists, many of whom have worked with Moser in the past.
Each performance alternated between poetry, dance and play excerpts addressing the project’s different themes. Each piece flowed into the next, building up to the last piece, “Harborline,” in which the full company danced together.
Moser was inspired to create UMBRA in response to America’s current sociopolitical climate. She achieves this in “Harborline,” which was originally performed in 2001 — a year accented by the Cincinnati race riots and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“Art effects change,” Moser said. “[My goal] is to nurture young talent and all talent.”
Before “Harborline,” three students shared their talents by showcasing original works. Kayla Temshiv, a second-year acting student, performed a 15-minute original play that highlighted the value of conversation and explored how we take day-to-day commonalities for granted through a post-apocalyptic lens.
Ariel Shaw, a third-year women’s gender and sexuality studies student, made a more personal statement through her raw, moving poetry that reflected upon her life experience being African American and transgender.
Being vulnerable on stage, Shaw said, is the most revolutionary thing one can do. Coming from a non-musical upbringing due to lack of opportunity, Shaw was grateful that Moser was “giving the students a platform.”
Lucas Prizant, a second-year acting student, shared a 12-minute snippet from his upcoming original play, which confronts the adult response to childhood memories. Tying in Moser’s theme of self-acceptance and love, Prizant focused on the phrase, “the idea to love who you are is to love who you are going to be.”
Moser addressed the state of our technologically-driven world and its need for a “human connection.” To make this connection, she encouraged audience members to be part of the performance by writing down their reactions on a form to later share with the performers.
The audience took 20 minutes to offer feedback, and many were moved to tears by the performance. By spreading love through art, UMBRA was arguably a success.