Maia Maiden explores women as a culture at Intermedia Arts

Maia Maiden explores women as a culture at Intermedia Arts

City Pages

For "This Was Meant for Women's Bodies," Maia Maiden takes inspiration from Maya Angelou's poem "Phenomenal Woman" in an evening of work that includes dance, monologues, film, and music. The performance, presented at Intermedia Arts as part of its Catalyst Series, is an exploration of how experiences are portrayed in women through the body. 
Maiden says the work is a collection of short stories told through music, dance, and film that show real women and how our obsession with body image affects our self-esteem. 

A scientist by day, Maiden has been in the dance community for over 15 years, primarily focusing on West African, hip-hop, and step styles. She was featured in "Momentum: New Dance Works 2008" at the Southern Theater, as well as in "Snapshots: Reflections of Women" at O'Shaughnessy. She is also the creator/curator of "Rooted: Hip Hop Choreographer's Evening" at Patrick's Cabaret.
Performing at the event will be Maiden's dance company, Conscious Spirit Dancers, doing five pieces, as well as Ellena Schoop and Cathy Wright, whose work is entwined in the show.

Maiden's film, A Woman's Voice, features 12 women of different ages. Made in a documentary style, it features interviews with each about their relationships with their bodies and with food. In some cases, the women talk about eating disorders. "It's kind of in your face," Maiden says. "It's all stemming from whatever culture they are trying to get into that ideal body." 
Maiden wanted to give women a voice with the work. "We're really bombarded with images about how we should look all the time," she says. "It's not just American culture, but whatever culture we belong to. I belong to Black culture, hip-hop culture, and I'm looking at what the ideal body images are within those cultures."
Maiden looked into her own history in dance, as well as experience in the world, and noticed similarities in terms of women as a culture. "We try to separate ourselves in terms of race and different ethnicities, but at the end of the day, there's a whole culture of women. Period," she says. 
Maiden decided to take on this topic when she was pregnant. On the one hand, she found herself affected by seeing images of celebrities who get pregnant and then "five seconds later drop back down to their original size." She also worried about how all the pressure to fit an ideal appearance would affect her daughter. 
Being pregnant heightened that feeling of vulnerability. "Usually I don't pay attention or care. But at the end of the day, we are affected whether we want to be or not. All women are affected to some extant, subconsciously or consciously." 

This Was Made for Women's Bodies
Intermedia Arts
8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday


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