About Women's Works

Mission Statement

Women's Works focus is on the female experience and the lens from which we witness and view the world.  This offering of experience through dance is done in a way that is not limiting but instead hopes to broaden our understanding of the multiple perspectives within the identity of "woman"(womyn/womxn).  We represent artists from a range of ages, dance and aesthetic backgrounds. This multiplicity is a defining and unique feature of the show. The aesthetics of the performance is not driven by the desires of a pervasive media driven definition of how "dance should be", but rather on the honest expression that occurs when our stories as women unfold with integrity and support. The emphasis on the creative process and individual voices, reflected in the diversity of styles in the show,  gives an emotional and intellectual depth to the work.  The resulting performance gives the audience greater potential to access ideas of possibility in their own lives.  Women’s Works fosters dialogue and conversations between community members through art.  We have offered workshops as an avenue into developing the creative work of participants of all ages, mirroring the ethos of the show, we are not just simply teaching repertory or dance routines.  We encourage all participants to experience themselves as creators and “choreographers”.  From 2006-2014 we have presented a diverse range of solo work, duets, trio and collaborative projects with choreographers, musicians, painters and poets. 

Each show now offers a theme or intention that flows through each individual and group piece bringing a cohesive and powerful story to share with the audience. The goal remains centered around creating an experience that actually does alter or deepen our understanding of self through the witnessing of art in motion. Women's Works is more about the process of making art and facilitating safe space and less about producing a predictable "product". The evidence of its efficacy rests in our gratitude of knowing that over the past 10 years, these intentions have deepened our relationships and our ability to grow as womyn, not just witness change.  We seek to provide deep support under the umbrella of Women's Works to handle the many complexities of life as mothers, lovers, movers, educators, artists, therapists, healers, musicians, doulas, waitresses, herbalists, teachers, wives, sisters, transgendered beings, activists, grandmothers, students, performers and people born of art. This support and sacred space directly informs the "offering" of the performance and the result has been creating a "home" (as a stage) where our strength and courage as women is honored and the community is then inspired to reflect this obvious expression of love back and so the cycle continues...

How did it all begin?

In 2006, I returned to Maine with my 6 month and 2 yr. old children, after 9 years of both living across the country and 4 of those spent dancing professionally in New York City with Nia Love.  Recognizing the need to bring contemporary modern dance to rural Maine, and my own strong desire to create something (despite this challenging transition back home),  I initiated Women's Works as a show concept in the summer of 2006.  It was a new way to collaborate and connect with local artists, and provide an opportunity to create and present our work professionally.  My role initially was to organize and produce the small show locally and choreograph and dance in the performance itself. It was a collaboration with two friends from NYC (Jesse Phillips-Fein and Sarah Sibley) and local artists Katenia Keller and Helena Malone who recently moved to this region in Maine as well.  My role in the work has evolved over the years and although it continues to be titled “director/producer” and choreographer,  it now includes community outreach work and focuses primarliy on holding space for the integration of our life’s work into a performance/offering. The intention of honoring female artists and their process has been present throughout the growth of the show and the process itself remains the most integral component of the work. 

~shana bloomstein

About the Development

Women's Works is an annual series of contemporary dance performances and community workshops by female choreographers in Mid-Coast Maine. The show was initially birthed by a deep need to create work and manage life as a single mother returning to Maine to begin life again and honor the world I had left behind me. The opportunity has created space to support contemporary dance and artists to present their own choreography and connect us all deeper to this community of conscience, grounded and 'hungry- for- change' beings here in Maine and beyond. Women's Works began as an evening of performance at Unity Center for Performing Arts in August 2006.  From 2006-2011 wepresented a diverse range of solo work by Maine artists Shana Bloomstein, Hanna DeHoff, Katenia Keller, Bethany Louisos, Helena MaloneLisa Newcomb, Cassie Pillsbury, Alexandra Pitre, Joan Proudman,  and guests from New York City: Sarah Sibley and Jesse Phillips-Fein.  

In 2009, we moved the show to Belfast's Maskers Theater, to broaden our audience base and to seek a stronger presence in the Mid-Coast Maine arts community.  At this time, we started to collaborate with artists in other disciplines: Belfast Poet Laureate Karin Spitfire, the band Tremolino (Portuguese Fado music), and local farmers, The Village Farm.  We also introduced a focused theme for the whole show, to give a through-line to the variety of the artists, and connecting to aspects of identities in the community. Themes from the past years include:  landscape & perspective (titled: What We See From Her), female identity as a lens for seeing the world and our inner workings (titled: A Look Inside), and exploring the roots of our identities through our workand internal/external landscapes (titled: Beneath the Dirt), ‘Behind Closed Doors’, “Re-arriving’ and ‘Transform’. The theme based work drove a deeper connection with in the circle of women and we began co-choreographing/collaborating on pieces together, in addition to our solo work.    

To honor both the 5th anniversary of Women's Works, and the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Dance Studio, we moved the show to the Belfast Dance Studio in 2010.  We also started offering community workshops in choreography and the creative process.  The workshops are an expansion of the mission of Women's Works: to bring attention to contemporary dance in Mid-Coast Maine.  The workshops offer a safe space for people of varied backgrounds and levels of experience in studying dance to explore their creative process.  Each workshop provides tools in choreography as well as an opportunity to perform in the final show, which several participants have done.  

Our last three performance projects have been offered at the Rockport Opera House and the group has grown from just 5 dancers in 2006 to a group of over 30 performing artists including, children/teens, elders, musicians, poets, designers, visual artists and continued collaborations with community members. We have been financially sponsored by donors for the past two years and look forward to continuing this work in any capacity that it may grow and thrive forward.