Sweet Goddess is a multimedia dance theater work exploring women’s experiences in Chicago house music and dance culture. While women have long been essential to the sounds and scenes of house as vocalists, dancers and DJs, this urban performance tradition is often narrated as a male-dominated practice and cultural space.
Overview: The Sweet Goddess Project
Chicago house music/dance as culture, lifestyle & consciousness in the lives of women
Chicago house music and dance emerged in the 1980’s as a sonic pastiche of gospel, funk, disco, R&B, punk, new wave, Euro-pop, salsa, Afro-beat and industrial percussion. Born from the experiences of youth, people of color and alternative sexualities, house is an embodied response to disempowerment and marginalization. It is an urban code of expression to fit an urban kind of consciousness though its roots extend to Southern rural lifeways and Baptist and Pentecostal traditions. House is spiritual, but it is also unashamedly sexual and queer.
Drawing on this layered cultural history, The Sweet Goddess Project examines ideas of community, sensuality, pleasure and empowerment to imagine the woman-centered energies of house culture. The work illustrates this Midwestern black American music and dance form as a lifestyle and cultural politics tussling with issues of race, class, gender and sexuality through the spaces of movement and music.
A production of Honey Pot Performance
Conceived by Meida McNeal, Artistic Director
Choreography by Meida McNeal in collaboration with Abra Johnson, Boogie McClarin and Ni’Ja Whitson
Jeanne Medina, Set & Costume
Garvin Jellison, Lighting
Jo de Presser, DJ
David Weathersby, Video
This work is supported through grants from the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, the Puffin Foundation, the Community Arts Assistance Program and the generosity of individuals supporting Honey Pot Performance’s artistic endeavors.
Chicago Tribune Review: “As with most things house music-related, ‘The Sweet Goddess Project,’ a look at the female experience in house music culture, will be filled with high-voltage dance, but also with spoken word and storytelling, accompanied by house music DJ Jo de Presser.”
M. Tekhen Strode: “I am a zealot, enthusiast, devotee and acolyte for the work of the Sweet Goddess Project and Honey Pot Performance, but you shouldn’t take my word for it. You should investigate and discover their process for yourself.”
Judy Moore, Northwestern University: “Part of an ongoing study to identify core characteristics of ‘House’ culture, ‘The Sweet Goddess Project’ illustrates the power of ‘House’ music. It attempts to pierce the male-dominated surface of the ‘House’ scene, examine its cultural and musical roots and highlight its feminine, sensual and political sides.”