The politically charged “…and I will never, ever let you down,” created for the 2017 Connecticut College Dance Club, was performed at the American College Dance Association’s 2018 National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in June.
Lieblein-Jurbala says she created the dance, which was selected from more than 30 works performed at the ACDA New England Conference in February, in response to a series of remarks made about women by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump during and before the 2016 campaign.
“I was angry and frustrated that the most powerful person in our country was speaking this way about 50 percent of the population,” she said. “Dance and performance is often a great way to start conversations.”
The piece, put on by five Connecticut College student dancers: Kaya Blumenthal-Rothchild ’20, Grace Bradley ’18, Kelli Carlson ’18, Emily Green ’18 and Sophia McLaughlin ’20, includes pre-recorded audio of women reading direct quotes from before and during the campaign. Some quotes are also spoken by the dancers during the performance.
“It’s a reclamation of words spoken about women,” Lieblein-Jurbala said.
Adjudicators for the ACDA New England Conference called “...and I will never, ever let you down,” a sophisticated and relevant statement in a charged political moment that utilizes the power of both subtle and not-so-subtle gesture. It immediately and thoroughly immerses the viewer in the world it creates, revealing its social commentary through masterful layering.”
A dance and sociology double major and scholar in the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, Lieblein-Jurbala is interested in the ways in which dance can be used to help those who have experienced trauma, and in the relationship between gender socialization and intimate violence. Last summer, she interned with the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence to develop a movement curriculum for children and teens affected by intimate partner violence.
Conn has a history of exploring social justice through the arts and feels that a vibrant and fully integrated music and arts program serves as a powerful vehicle for advancing the social change that helps define the College’s mission. Shani Collins-Achille, associate professor of dance and chair of the Connecticut College Dance Department, said Conn’s integrative approach to dance education is on display when Lieblein-Jurbala’s piece is performed.
“The dance community gets a great sense of who we are with this very powerful, highly political piece,” she said.