A good wife always knows her place. — “How to be a Good Wife,” from either Housekeeping Monthly or a 1950’s textbook.
I’ve lived through a great many changes by this point in my life. I thought things had settled down, more or less, when the 2012 Presidential election happened and, all of a sudden, womanly subjects jumped into prominence.
That might have been a surprise to the younger generation. So I was, you might say, a bit flabbergasted that Jamie Erin Murphy and Renee Danielle Smith surfaced with a historical piece that covered various eras over 50-plus years.
But the project didn’t start with the current uproar – it started with a simple request. The Ellis School was presenting the Diversity League’s Culture Jam and asked Laura Warnock, who had a dance connection there and was a member of the Murphy/Smith Dance Collective, if the company would participate.
They wondered, nonetheless, how three white women could contribute to the effort.
They decided on a historical, rather than political angle. “It would be a celebration of how far women have come since the fifties era,” Jaime explains.
Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.
The women came up with a wealth of information, from family and friends, supplemented by the Internet and Youtube. One of the biggest shocks centered around how some felt that women should not wear pants. They documented it from the 1940’s until even today. Yes, “women should be women and men should be men,” some still say. If they don’t use dresses and pants, “there would not be enough differences between the genders.”
And while it started with a quartet of women, the project has expanded to eight performers for the upcoming performance on Friday at Pittsburgh Dance Center — certainly the biggest undertaking yet for the young group.
With that they were able to encompass various areas and the female stereotypes that have evolved (they will rely mostly on costume changes). Music helped to define the various eras. Doris Day’s “Dream a Little Dream.” Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.” Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill.” And of course, the iconic “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy.
Let him talk first — remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
After observing material from the different eras, Jaime felt that she could attach herself to the ‘60‘s, where the female was “coming into her own self, not having to be this prim and proper fifties housewife and keeping every together. She could just let her body go and find the freedom of being a woman.”
And as a women in today’s society, Jaime is generally happy with “how far women have come. But everyone would like to see women evolve more…at least women would.” She laughs. “I guess as much as we would like to say things are equal between men and women, there is still a struggle there.”
This will be the first installment of the Independent Artists Series, originated by Jaime and Renee. Also on the program will be work by Taylor Knight, Beth Ratas and Laura Warnock. Pittsburgh Dance Center, 8 p.m.