This week, justArts spoke with Maria Kulchyckyj ’20 and Liv Molho ’20, the coordinators of the ’DEIS Impact event, “Rise Above: An Exploration of Dance and Body Culture.” They performed in the dances and choreographed them.

justArts: How did you come up with the idea for the event?

Maria Kulchyckyj and Olivia Molho: We really wanted our dances to provoke introspection for the people in the audience. For them to watch and relate. The inspiration for the event was just our need to express how we felt, and wanting to create a dance with a story and a meaning.

JA: How did you come up with the performance?

MK and OM: We first choreographed our duet about struggle and then decided to have a dance about overcoming and thought it would be more powerful with more dancers, so we asked two of our friends if they would be interested in dancing with us at the event. Soon after the election, Joanna performed a Black Lives Matter dance at Chum’s, and we thought it would be so powerful if she performed at our event, because while being about Black Lives Matter, it was also about struggle in general and fit very well with what we already had, while also adding new elements to it that we were really lacking.

JA: Who choreographed the dances?

MK and OM: We started planning this event as originally one piece. We then decided to do a piece about struggling with body image (“Skinny Love”), and another piece about rising above those standards (“Rise”). Our friend Joanna also choreographed a piece and we asked her to perform her solo for the event. Choreographing the pieces, we focused on the stories we wanted to tell through our movements. “Skinny Love” was more of our individual struggles with body shaming, and we wanted to represent the turmoil that goes on in our minds when thinking about body shaming. When choreographing “Rise,” we focused on group work and partnering, because we wanted to portray that looking toward others for support is the best way to rise above impossible beauty standards.

JA: What was the goal of this project?

MK and OM: We wanted the audience to think about their individual experiences when it comes to body shaming, and that even though society won’t always accept who we are, we have to start within ourselves.

JA: Why did you choose to do this project for ’DEIS Impact?

MK and OM: We really wanted to take on this project because we wanted to finally have a reaction to all of the body shaming in our lives and wanted people to know that we need to rise up within ourselves in order to change the insane beauty standards that have been normalized in our society. We wanted this to be not only a reaction to body shaming but a celebration of the human body through dance, which in itself is so empowering.

—Hannah Kressel