JEZEBEL (2019)

Cherish Menzo & Frascati Producties

JEZEBEL is a dance performance inspired by the ‘Video Vixen’: female models who appeared in hip hop video clips in the late ’90s and early ’00s.

Images in the mass media – and in music videos particularly – often projected the female in a hyper-sensualized way. The repetitive images in hip hop videos reinforce stereotypes associated in particular with black/dark/coloured women. Video Vixens – also referred to as ‘hip hop honeys’ or ‘video girls’ – were the subject of severe criticism and often typified as the ‘Jezebels’ of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In the pre-Youtube era – when MTV still meant Music Television – the Video Vixen model played a central role in video clips. In spite of the explicit lyrics (usually written by men) and the sensual, seductive and scantily clad appearance of the vixen, her performance had a great influence on the aesthetics of these clips. As well as on the popularity of the (male) artist.
During the past twenty years, the Video Vixen has both suffered and benefitted from this. Today, she stands for much more than the objectified ‘ride or die’ model within a male-dominated culture.

Jezebel refuses to be defined by others. She navigates the landscape of hip hop culture, looking for ways to reclaim her own image. Can Jezebel deconstruct the controversial stereotype associated with the black hip hop honey? How did this video girl redefine herself in 2020?

Awarded an Amsterdam Fringe Award and International Bursary [2019].
Nominated for the BNG Bank Theaterprijs [2020].
Nominated for the Nederlandse Dansdagen [2020].

‘Composer Michael Nunes creates a brilliant soundscape, menacing and fierce. And so is Menzo’s entire performance: on the border of threat and seduction, of alienation and allurement. Cherish Menzo doesn’t make a real statement, and that’s a good thing; she forces you to think about your own way of thinking in stereotypes before anything else.’ – Kester Freriks, Critic’s choice in Theaterkrant, 06 November 2019

Menzo is a force to be reckoned with, not only as a dancer, but also as a brave maker of her own work.’ – Jordi Ribot Thunissen, Movement Exposed, 10 November 2019

‘With Jezebel, Cherish Menzo moves somewhere between dance and performance. She takes us on a slowed down and deconstructed music video with a video vixen center stage. With minimal means, she manages to powerfully theatricalize the iconography of this over-sexualized woman. The vixen that Menzo “creates” evolves and appeals to the imagination, even of audiences who may not be at home in this world. The jury is impressed with the choices Menzo makes in showing her main character. Against the odds, Menzo chooses stillness. Starting with stylization, the pace picks up and the character literally and figuratively blows up. With Jezebel, Menzo manages to provide a new perspective on the icon of the black woman in hip-hop culture in an original way.’ – Jury report BNG Bank Theaterprijs 2020

‘Menzo […] seizes ownership of these portrayals. Be it Missy Elliot and Beyonce, or Nicky Minaj and Cardi B today, Black female artists in rap, hip-hop and R&B empower themselves and their listeners. Like them, our Jezebel has a voice. Her long acrylic nails painted white demand attention — they are her accessory and her weapon. It is her time.’ – Parvati Ramanathan, tanzschreiber, 09 March 2022

PREMIERE: Nov 5th, 2019 at Frascati (Amsterdam, NL)
MUSIC: Michael Nunes
VIDEO: Andrea Casetti
COSTUMES: Daniel Smedeman
DRAMATURGY: Renée Copraij
OUTSIDE EYE: Berthe Spoelstra, Christian Yav and Nicole Geertruida
VOCAL COACH: Shari Kok-Sey-Tjong
CAMPAIGN IMAGE: Tatchatrin Choeychom
CO-PRODUCTION: Frascati Producties
PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT: Bibi Scholten van Aschat
WITH THE SUPPORT OF: Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst
THANKS TO: Benjamin Kahn, Centre Chorégraphique Le Château

under construction

Previous dates

September 2022
1 Jezebel – Theater festival Basel, Basel (CH)
2 Jezebel – Theater festival Basel, Basel (CH)

October 2022
3 Jezebel – Dublin Theatre Festival, Dublin (IRL)
4 Jezebel – Dublin Theatre Festival, Dublin (IRL)
6 Jezebel – Battersea Arts Center, London (UK)
7 Jezebel – Battersea Arts Center, London (UK)
8 Jezebel – Battersea Arts Center, London (UK)
11 Jezebel – Battersea Arts Center, London (UK)
12 Jezebel – Battersea Arts Center, London (UK)
13 Jezebel – Battersea Arts Center, London (UK)
14 Jezebel – Battersea Arts Center, London (UK)
16 Jezebel – Fierce Festival, Birmingham (UK)
22 Jezebel – Le Trillium, Ottawa (CA)
25 Jezebel. – Usine C, Montreal (CA)
26 Jezebel. – Usine C, Montreal (CA)

November 2022
11 Jezebel – Moving in November, Helsinki (FI)
12 Jezebel – Moving in November, Helsinki (FI)
16 Jezebel – Dansstationen, Malmö (SE)
18 Jezebel – Dansens hus, Stockholm (SE)
19 Jezebel – Dansens hus, Stockholm (SE)
22 Jezebel – Norrlandsoperan, Umeå (SE)

For more information, press map, riders and financial conditions please contact Line Rousseau or Marion Gauvent


Photo: Bas De Brouwer