They are two of the most powerful voices interpreting American culture today. One speaks with words, the other with movement. And on stage at Lincoln Center in New York City on Wednesday, in a performance that opened the 10th annual Women in the World Summit with a show propelled by dance and poetry, they spoke as one.
Choreographer Sherrie Silver has been creating magic through dance for years. In 2018, she became an overnight international sensation for her work choreographing Childish Gambino’s music video ‘This Is America.’ The video’s runaway viral success has helped the Rwandan artist bring African-inspired dance styles into the mainstream. In the process, she has delivered a clear-eyed awareness to a critical social issue while finding widespread popular success at the same time.
She was joined on stage by Los Angeles-native Amanda Gorman, who was named the first Youth Poet Laureate of the United States of America in 2017. Like Silver, the 21-year-old Gorman is a singular voice who has earned praise for her ability to bring clarity to the garbled narrative of American life. She’s performed alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda and Morgan Freeman, and was invited by Michelle Obama to recite her poetry at the White House. On Wednesday, she recited it for the hushed audience at the Women in the World Summit.
“We don’t need permission to make it our mission to make change, to be ourselves” said Gorman in arresting stacato. “Unapologetically confident, beautifully strange.”
At a certain point, she paused, and suddenly five women appeared center stage dressed in gleaming white — one of them Silver — and broke into an ebullient dance. Then, as if responding to their movement itself, Gorman burst forth with more exquisite verse, until finally, Silver and Gorman merged on the stage, speaking one after the other.
“Each of us standing on one another’s shoulders.”
“And each of us a summit.”
And with that, the audience roared, and the summit began.