Smile Politely

A story, a circus, a star…

Chocolate Woman Dreams the Milky Way takes its audience to a galaxy farther away than one might imagine. Monique Mojica and Gloria Miguel are an enchanting pair that interpret words with voices and dance movements as smooth as the chocolate named in the title of their performance. Chocolate Woman takes its viewers on a journey through time and possibly space as they retell cultural stories of the Grandmothers of Creation—a common story told in indigenous culture.

Now, this may seem a bit confusing for anyone not sure of what to expect with this show, but Mojica and Miguel do a wonderful job of using their distinct voices as a poetic duet to tell wonderfully woven and extravagant stories. 

Which is not to say that I think this show is going to be for everyone. If you have a background studying anything relating to Native American culture or art, then you’ll definitely find a way to appreciate this. If you do not… then you may not find the show as rewarding or favorable.

Mojica invigorates the story with fierce body movements as she switches between playing male and female characters. As arresting as she is, however, the show can at times feel a bit like a circus act, as there are ropes and a hammock as the main props. The vibrant, brightly focused colors also add to the festive look and feel. There are three tapestry-like banners that hang in the center of the set, and as Mojica and Miguel explain each banner’s story and symbolism, Mojica must unwind them and let them hang in the center. This is beautifully done, with the lovely and decorative banners unfurling into bright and specially focused pools of light.

While the movements of her partner take place downstage, Miguel sits further away from the audience, upstage, in a contraption that looks strangely like a ship. Although I appreciated her persuasive voice as she read the poetic text, I wish there had been some movement or action coming from her direction. Her static position sitting and reading began to feel, at times, as if she was just sitting and reading.

Another problem I found with this play was a somewhat confusing, certainly nonlinear perception of time. One moment Mojica would be singing a modern(ish) song like “Catch a Falling Star,” and then the next moment we would escape back into the past. This definitely added to the dream-like quality of the show, but it was also puzzling at times.

As she sang and danced, she moved across a painted floor in a sparkling rendition of a fallen star—a black mat with white and silver swirls that were representative of the Milky Way. Mojica really did wonderfully as she swung from rope to rope in her star-like manner with quick precision and grace.

This show was definitely unique and beautifully orchestrated. If you can take it for what it is—a story about a modern woman trying to connect with her culture and ancestors—then you will certainly enjoy it. If you try to analyze it as something more, then you may not be able to appreciate its artistic beauty or really feel the way that Mojica electrifies the stage as a Daughter from the Stars. One thing about which I have no doubt however: whether you “get” the show completely or not, once you see Mojica in this performance, you may feel that you were actually able to catch a falling star.

Photos courtesy of Chocolate Woman Collective.

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