Founded in 2007, MAWU is an all-female crew and dance company born out of New York’s underground house scene, whose mission is to embody strong, positive images of women in the street dance community, and to create fierce and creative works that will both educate and inspire new audiences. More than just a unique group of house dancers, MAWU’s strength lies in the diversity of its members, all of whom represent different backgrounds, ethnicities and performance genres including house, hip hop, modern, ballet, African, Afro-Brazilian, and jazz. While the primary medium is house music and dance, MAWU’s movement style can best be described as ‘urban fusion’ because its members seek to express movement using a clear vocabulary as it has been and continues to be developed in the urban underground setting, while drawing on both classical and contemporary techniques.
It was a combination of fate and common sense that brought the founding members of MAWU together. As participants in the underground dance scene of New York City they all frequently shared the same dance floor—from Club Shelter to Deep See to Soulgasm to the House Dance Conference, just to name a few. What prompted these ladies to seek each other out was a noticeable lack of female voices in a primarily male-dominated arena and a desire to make themselves heard. MAWU firmly believes in the necessity for women to have access to female mentors and for house dancers everywhere to understand the history, the context, and the energy of house dance, as it originated and exists today in New York City. As a result, education, activism, and community building are all important parts of MAWU’s mission, as evidenced by their international travels and by the launch of their weekly open practice session, MUD (Movement Un-Defined), in 2009. They have taught and/or judged competitions in France, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Nigeria, Mexico, the Ukraine, and Italy, with the goal of fostering relationships with youth in the community, teaching classes and workshops demonstrating strong technique and historical context, hosting and participating in interactive seminars and panel discussions, and bringing dance to schools where such programs are not readily available.
Through their explosive performances, MAWU creates a platform for dancers of all ages, races, and genders to celebrate diversity and the freedom to create, express and share, to fight for the rights of dancers, and to show support for performing arts. Following their March 2007 debut at New York’s House Dance Conference, MAWU made special appearances at Melting Pot NYC’s tribute to women’s month, the Winter Music Conference in Miami, ¡Globaile!, the Dance For Peace fundraiser, Brooklyn Mecca’s Female All-Stars Jam, and House Dance International, New York’s first house dance festival. In June 2008, MAWU organized the first ever Circle Hog Fest—an event created by dancers for dancers. Since then, the group has presented original work at Alvin Ailey Dance Center, Dixon Place, Jamaica Performing Arts Center, SummerStage and Red Hook Fest, and performance credits include Buddha Stretch’s Step Ya Game Up, Mop Top’s Anniversary Reunion, Ladies of Hip Hop, BAAD!Ass Women and the Boogie Down Dance Series at the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, and Hip Hop Generation Next in partnership with Dancing in the Streets, to name a few, and they continue to take this scene by storm one dance floor at a time.
The ladies of MAWU are Chriz, Ephrat, Jimbo, Linda, Rhodesia, Secada, Tara, and Tine.