Column – “Creative Space” – Grown Women Dance Collective

June 5, 2014 14:00 pm · 4 comments


The Grown Women Dance Collective was founded in 2009 for professional female dancers to come together after they “retire” and create beautiful performance art. Based in Concord, the GWDC works to create cross-cultural and cross-generational bridges through the arts, by introducing concert dance to diverse audiences while challenging the stereotypes of aging.

On June 27th and 28th, they’re performing their 5th annual production of Fallen Heroes, Rising Stars: A Juneteenth Celebration Through Dance, sponsored in part by Diablo Valley – Defying Expectations (details below in the Events listing).

Juneteenth is a national commemoration of African-Americans’ liberation from slavery – celebrating their freedom and encouraging respect for all cultures. This dynamic multi-media dance concert pays tribute to Juneteenth and honors several influential African-American musical artists who we’ve lost in the last 14 years, including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Ray Charles. It promises to be an exciting and uplifting evening!

Accompanying the dancers this year is 86-year-old drummer, Elayne Jones of Rossmore, who will play the timpani. Elayne was the first African American, as well as the first woman, to play for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She was also the first African American to play for the San Francisco Symphony.

Below is a 2012 CBS interview with GWDC’s Artistic Director, Tonya Amos, in which she describes the passion and history behind this must-see show.

While you’re in the lobby of either theater, be sure to check out the historical photographs like this one below, on loan from the traveling exhibit, Quest for Identity.


Visit the GWDC website for ticket information and details about making tax-deductible donations to keep this non-profit group dancing for joy!


TONIGHT – Music & Market
6:30 – 8:00pm
Gator Nation – Soulful Cajun
Todos Santos Plaza, Concord

June 6 
6:00 – 9:00pm
Free To Be 3 – Art Show Reception
I’ve Been Framed Gallery, Martinez

June 7
2:00 – 5:00pm
Diablo Valley Camera Club Show Reception
Art Cottage, Concord

June 7
7:00 – 9:00pm
Belonging – art exhibit reception
Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery, Lafayette

June 8
1:00 – 3:00pm
Annual Student Art Show
M.J. Studios, Pleasant Hill

June 12
6:00 – 8:00pm
Reception – The Skull Show
Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek

June 14-15
King of the County Music Festival
Martinez Waterfront Park

June 19
8:00 – 10:00pm
Duo Gadjo – Jazz with a French Twist
Armando’s, Martinez

June 21
Public art walking tour
Downtown Walnut Creek

June 21
10:00am – 3:00pm
Flip Flop into Summer – Craft Boutique
Martinez Senior Center

June 21
Concert for Canines – Fundraiser for EBARR
Solar Wind Band
Vinnie’s Bar & Grill, Concord

June 27
Juneteenth Dance Celebration
Diablo Valley College Theater, Pleasant Hill

June 28
Juneteenth Dance Celebration
California Theater, Pittsburg

Now through July 19
Wicked Botany – art exhibit
Community Art Gallery
Walnut Creek Library

Now through August
Homing Cheung – Art Exhibit
Mazzei Realty, Clayton

Creative Space is a weekly column written by Lisa Fulmer that features local art events and performances, inspiring interviews with creative movers and makers, DIY how-to projects for you and our home, plus fun craft ideas for the whole family. Creative Space will be on every Thursday at 2pm.

As an avid creative junkie living in Concord, Lisa wants to make it easier for our readers to find ways to embrace creativity and celebrate the local people who are making it happen. In addition to her work as a writer and a marketing consultant, Lisa is a mixed media artist and a project designer for the craft industry.

Visit her blog to see more of Lisa’s own creative space.

1 student June 5, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Can you post more information about the photo exhibit: Quest for Identity? pls?

2 Shelly June 5, 2014 at 7:42 PM

#1, did you click on the link?

3 Shelly June 5, 2014 at 7:44 PM

Another BRILLIANT column. The absolute crowning gem of Claycord!

4 Tonya June 5, 2014 at 9:13 PM

Hi, “Student”. I hope that you are well. Below is the write up from Robert Scott, the Curator of “Quest For Identity” about the exhibit. We will have 6 of the 19 pieces on display at the performances. Enjoy!

Seeing the Invisible: African-Americans, Photography and the Quest for Identity

The emergence of photography so seamlessly aligns with America’s transformation that you would be forgiven for assuming it’s an American invention. America’s embrace of this new technology was complete. Miniature portraits immortalized sitters, from the powerful to the powerless, for generations to come. Photography documented America’s war with itself and the country that emerged from those battlefields; making the Civil War the first extensively photographed war. This most democratic medium matched America’s deepest aspiration as a society: the individual right to self-determination. Peering into the lens, the sitter shaped the image as much as the photographer in this power sharing arrangement – defining how he or she would be presented.

Photography played a significant role in African-Americans establishing their identity in an indifferent and often times hostile society. For a powerless people the vernacular photograph was often the singular tool used against a tide of popular images that reinforced dehumanizing stereotypes of a deracinated people unfit to be considered an equal and therefore justly denied full citizenship. W. E. B. DuBois groundbreaking photo exhibit at the 1900 Paris Exposition was an all-out attempt to present a counter narrative – that of the new Negro – The Talented Tenth. African-Americans used photography to make a silent private statement – I am here and this is who I am. With the introduction of the daguerreotype to the photo postcards of the early twentieth century, these marginalized Americans project resilience, pride and self-definition. Within the historical context of the times these early images can be viewed as the first acts of non-violent protest. On a personal level, the photograph would play
an important role as evidence in the often fractured African-American family tree. For the legally mandated illiterate, the photograph gave evidence to word of mouth family histories and fueled fading memories.

Unlike Mr. DuBois and his exhibit of African-Americans from the middle and upper classes, this portfolio of 19 individual and group portraits casts a wider net with more modest ambitions. This collection represents an opening, an entryway, for the viewer to come face to face with some of the invisible people of America’s history. In addition to the personal histories, the significance of these images is derived from the time period in which they were produced – from the cusp of emancipation into the Jim
Crow era. As a viewer, you are invited to fill in the narrative of these anonymous few. Look into their eyes, examine their dress and pose a question or two. For those who have seen the racist iconography of the late 19th and early 20th century of stock stereotypical characters, it will be impossible not to measure the imaginative arc from those depictions to this reality.

The idea of reimaging existing photographs was to make intimate images more accessible. Printed in limited edition of 15 portfolios with archival pigment inks to attain the highest quality and longevity, the prints retain the detail and emotional weight of the originals. For this I thank digital print pioneer Jon Cone and the team at Cone Editions for the loving care and craftsmanship they invested in this project.

Robert Scott – Curator

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