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Vows: A Work about Marriage Gains New Resonance

When choreographer Jennifer Seye created Vows in 2014, she was driven in part by turmoil among co-workers, family members, and American society surrounding gay marriage rights. The Supreme Court had not yet established same-sex marriage as the law of the land, and it was the subject of much public and private debate.

As a white woman married to a Black man, Seye was struck by the reality that her own marriage would have been illegal in many states and highly controversial for much of American history. Seye set out to explore the nature of marriage and how restrictions on who we are allowed to love might feel to those affected. Her work Vows, will be performed November 19 and 20 as part of Full Circle Dance Company's show HOME: Longing and Belonging at Baltimore Theatre Project.

In rehearsing the piece with a new cast for the 2022 show, Seye urged the dancers to express a sense of how precious it is to be able to declare your love to the person of your choice. While the work is physically demanding, with partners carrying and supporting each other, it is also full of tenderness and deep appreciation for the opportunity to love.

Seye says, "When I think of marriage, what's most important to me is the vows two individuals make to each other. When I started to research what philosophers and writers had to say about marriage throughout history, it almost always revealed vows at the center of what a marriage is. I'm not trying to make a political statement about who I believe should be married. I just want the audience to see the meaning of two individuals declaring their love for each other. I really hope this piece will encourage conversation about the topic."

"Vows feels both timeless and timely," says Full Circle associate artistic director Liz Pelton. "The idea of marriage vows is an ancient one, yet the norms surrounding marriage have never been static. And in 2022, with definitions of marriage and the vulnerability of marriage rights back in the news, this work seems as relevant and important as when it was first created."


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