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Dance company celebrates Cambridge women and work

What do an advocate for the homeless, a psychiatrist, a curtain folder, a biologist, a laboratory assistant, a funeral home director, a welder and a library worker have in common?

All are Cambridge women who have shared personal stories about their work lives with the Back Porch Dance Company for Celebrating Cambridge Women and Work, a dance theater work to have three performances (Thursday, May 18 at 8pm, and Friday, May 19 at 11am and 8pm) at Kresge Auditorium.

The piece, which celebrates "the contributions made by working women over the past 70 years to the complex community of Cambridge," is based on interviews with the eight women, who were selected from hundreds of names suggested by Cantabridgians.

The narrators, who speak in their own voices, represent a broad spectrum of work experience, age, culture, race, class, religion, neighborhood and sexual preference. One of them, Claire Pritchard, is a former MIT laboratory assistant.

"These women are so full of strength, of imagination, of enormous accomplishments and great humility," says Joan Green, Back Porch co-director. "We are very thrilled to introduce these marvelous women to neighbors who may not know them yet."

Back Porch, founded in 1980, is an interracial company of 15 women whose ages range from 15 to 83. The company's oldest member, World War II welder Evelyn Tyner, is also one of the narrators.

The Friday night performance will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the dancers and narrators and a reception. Tickets are $8-$50, available by cash or check from Sandy's Music, Frameworks or New Words Bookstore; by credit card at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education; or by calling 661-6384, where more information about the show is also available.

Cambridge photographers Sarah Putnam and Vaughn Sills will focus their cameras on the eight women for an exhibition at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center May 24 through June 23. Celebrating Cambridge Women and Work is supported by the Boston Foundation Fund for Art and Culture, the Martin Foundation, the Millennium Fund, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the New England Foundation for the Arts, as well as various community partners and individuals.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 17, 2000.

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