“Vogue Through the Ages” was a mind-blowing culture demonstration and a confidence-inspiring show I had the privilege of attending this past Saturday night. Though most would have varying plans on a Saturday night, I found mine filled with fascinating people, an intimate view into a dance movement that has been around for over 20 years, and an amazing self-esteem boost.
“Voguing” is a style of dance that developed from 1960s Harlem Ballroom. It was established in the 1980s but achieved its mainstream status when it was featured in Madonna’s “Vogue” music video in the 1990s. The style has gained extreme momentum since then and has become a global phenomenon. Though it developed from Harlem Ballroom, it was also inspired by the poses in Vogue magazine (from which it derived its name) and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Dance is one of my favorite art forms, mostly due to its extreme variety and ability to send a message through physical expression rather than words. Yes, there is ballet and tap and all of the basic dance forms that are universally known and appreciated worldwide, but it is the forms that are developed for the purpose of a movement that are the most extraordinary. I had never heard of voguing before going to this show, but now that I have seen and enjoyed it in the way it was meant to be viewed and enjoyed, I cannot believe that more people haven’t found it.
This show specifically featured Rochester natives and those from the neighboring Rochester community. The performers had intimate knowledge of the style and had all the love for it and confidence in the world to showcase it to the audience. They presented to us a form of vogue fem, named for the exaggerated feminine movements presented in the style, called “catwalk” or ”runway.” There was a large catwalk in the center of the room that was used by almost every performer. During their walk, they would make it to the large and open floor area and perform what is called “floorwork” and “spins and dips.” Floorwork is when the performer uses the floor to roll, twist, or in any other way capture the attention of the viewer, where as spins and sips is a very well-planned turn and drop to the floor that perfectly matches the beats in the music and is the most showy and shocking attribute of voguing.
I thought the show was phenomenal. No matter who you are or what you like, this dance form felt to me like a celebration. As I sat there, mesmerized by each dancers’ hands moving, I realized just how much was being said with one body part. I felt the history, the culture, and the passion of a movement all in one room. I think what I felt most was pride in their confidence. I genuinely couldn’t help but smile watching each of them show off and strut their stuff. I got the message, and that’s what dance is all about.