Holiday performance focuses on story of Mary, aims to empower Black girls

Chicago News

CHICAGO A new holiday performance premiering Sunday focuses on the story of Mary with a greater mission to empower Black girls through the gift of dance.

It’s the joy of the holiday season wrapped in effortless grace and the magic of movement. For Erin Barnett, a dance career has led her through New York City, Los Angeles and Las Vegas all before coming back home to Chicago.

“I never ever wanted to do anything other than dance,” Barnett said.

In 2015 she launched ‘Black Girls Dance’, an organization to create opportunities for dancers who are often overlooked by major dance companies.

This weekend is the premiere of ‘Mary’, the holiday dansical she wrote, directed and choreographed.

“There’s ballet point work, tap hip-hop and contemporary dance,” Barnett said.

17-year-old Arayah Lyte plays the titular role, saying on stage was her favorite place to be while applauding Barnett for creating a space for young Black artists to flourish.

Following months of rehearsal for Mary, Barnett said it’s pure excitement leading up to showtime.

“Coming from being a dancer to now on the other side of it feels so full circle, so like this is my destiny. I couldn’t be more proud and happy with the way the girls have given it their all, I’m so proud of them,” Barnett said.

The show will be Sunday night at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts. Tickets can be found here.

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