Syncopated Ladies, an all-woman tap dance band, voted powerfully with their feet on Thursday night, when they combined forces to drown out the menacing entreaties of alleged serial harasser and bully Harvey Weinstein.
As the chilling audio from a 2015 NYPD sting operation filled the darkened David H. Koch Theater on the opening night of the Women in the World Summit, the dance troupe, all dressed in white, began their mighty drumbeat, building to a crescendo that silenced the recording of Weinstein’s attempts to lure model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez into his hotel room.
The electrifying atmosphere in the theater was amplified by an inspiring audio track of prominent women speaking truth to power, including former first lady Michelle Obama, actress Viola Davies, Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards and T.V. powerhouse Oprah Winfrey.
In the police audio recording that opened the performance — first posted online by The New Yorker in association with an investigation by Ronan Farrow — Weinstein is heard admitting he groped Gutierrez, describing it as behavior he is “used to”, and telling her “Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes.”
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) October 10, 2017
Farrow continued his conversation with Gutierrez at the summit’s opening night, interviewing her alongside actress and fellow Weinstein-accuser Asia Argento, as well as Italian politician Laura Boldrini.
Syncopated Ladies, created by dancer and choreographer Chloé Arnold and based in Los Angeles, have been performing for 14 years but gained massive international exposure when Beyonce shared their tribute video of her hit song “Formation” in 2013. “There’s nothing more uplifting than being lifted up by another woman, especially a black woman,” Arnold told HuffPost.
During filming of a #TimesUp-themed video in January, to Ciara’s “Like A Boy”, Arnold told a reporter from Dance Magazine that she hopes to provide opportunities for girls to learn to tap, paying forward the kind of support she has had from women like Beyonce and her mentor, choreographer Debbie Allen. “We want to be leaders in how tap is seen and received,” she said of her vision. “We want to teach girls to have their own voices. To be themselves. To not be afraid.”