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‘Effects” seeks to empower women

Mills College Weekly

As choreographer/director and founder of Zari Le’on Dance
Theater, Lionudakis does care, and she has a lot to be nervous
about. Her upcoming show, “To Effect, Create and Quake Energy”
premieres on September 19th and 20th in Lisser Hall.

A work in progress since February, Lionudakis says, “the show is
in response to a chaotic atmosphere that I’ve been feeling and I
know other people have been feeling.”

But through “To Effect, Create and Quake Energy,” she has
created an outlet of release, one that is based strongly on

“It’s basically about the process of creating space within
relationships. When we take space with someone it’s mainly in a
dualistic relationship it’s rarely in groups, rarely a community.
This piece is about that dualistic relationship that culminates
eventually in a trio,” she said.

Since the Dance Theater’s inception in 2002, Lionudakis has
created, directed and choreographed “Requiem for Ho”-“an urban
based morality tale about young women torn between the spiritual
and physical realms.” Most recently Zari Le’on performed for the
screening of Amandla! a benefit for Young Women United for Oakland
and The Center for Young Women’s Development’s ten year anniversary
along with local artist Meshell N’degeocello and Ledisi.

According to Lionudakis, at the core of the nine member Zari
Le’on Dance Theater is their commitment to providing positive role
models for young black women and the overall empowerment of women
who are on the margins of society.

“My personal mission is to uplift women of color, especially
black women, of the Diaspora. Because I am one and I see how the
lack of understanding and compassion can lead us to craziness and
lack of artistic outlets can lead to craziness,” said

Through Zari Le’on Dance Theater, Lionudakis is carving out a
niche in the dance and theater world, where women of color can
express themselves in ways that traditionally have not been allowed
in the arts. This calls for incorporating singers, drummers, a DJ
and spoken word artists into the performance.

Lionudakis has meshed these elements to create what she calls
“Ethno Fusion.”

This is an element that will be at the foreground of the Friday
and Saturday premiere of “To Effect, Create and Quake Energy”.
Lionudakis revealed that the audience can expect a blend of hip-hop
and soul through dance and music. National slam champion from
Berkeley Meliza Banales will also be performing with vocalist
Kaylah Marin.

The Zari Le’on Dance Theater will perform on Sept. 19 and 20 at
Lisser Hall. Admission is $10-15. This event is brought to you by
the Ethnic Studies department.