Thaïs Mazur collaborating with AXIS Dance Company
Award: Performing Arts Grant awarded in April 1997
Premiered: March 4-6, 1999 at the Cowell Theater, San Francisco; March 12-13, 1999, Mills College, Oakland, California
Choreographer Thaïs Mazur collaborated with other women artists to create “Women in Black,” a multidisciplinary performance work about the Women in Black Against War movement. The 90-minute piece combined dance with instrumental and vocal music. Artistic partners included Shira Cion and members of Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble, composer Katrina Wreede, sculptor and set designer Lauren Elder, and costume designer Duston Spear. The finished work incorporated 36 performers, including nine youth from the Betsy Blakeslee Youth Choir.
A non-violent protest movement, Women in Black Against War began in 1988 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and, along the way, women in 25 countries throughout the world joined the silent protest, standing in vigil against the war crimes routinely inflicted upon women and children, protesting the disappearance of their husbands, sons, and daughters.
Soon after the Creative Work Fund grant was awarded, significant changes in the board and staff at AXIS Dance Company led to changes in Thaïs Mazur’s connection to the company and AXIS did not play a role in the collaboration as originally planned. The other participating artists sustained the original vision and process.
Thaïs Mazur began her dance career in 1975 and has performed with a wide variety of companies. In 1987, she was the founding director of AXIS Dance Company, serving as its artistic director for ten years. In the process of developing “Women in Black,” Mazur continued to work with the partner organization developed through this project and to direct The Women in Black Dance Project after the grant was closed. Mazur has gone on to write and publish on the subject of “warrior mothers.”
AXIS Dance Company is an ensemble of dancers with and without disabilities. Its work has received critical praise from audiences and reviewers internationally. It continues to thrive under the artistic direction of Judith Smith.