Thursday, February 29, 2024

W&M Theatre presents: “Dance of the Orcas”

Screenshot of “Dance of the Orcas” filming at Buckroe Beach. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of W&M)

WILLIAMSBURG — One play will showcase a mother’s grief, community support and the concept of letting go, all through the eyes of an orca whale.

William & Mary (W&M) Theatre, Speech and Dance Department, in co-production with Christopher Newport University, is showcasing the play, “Dance of the Orcas,” which is about one orca whale’s journey through grieving the loss of her baby and finding peace.

“In this stirring choreoritual of word, song and movement, Tahlequah, assisted by ancestral forces, journeys into a dark emotional abyss and learns the freedom which comes from letting go,” according to the show’s description. “A testament to embracing vulnerability and community healing.”

Omiyẹmi (Artisia) Green, an Associate Professor of Theatre and Africana Studies and director of the Africana Studies Program at W&M, wrote and directed the play.

Green said that “Dance of the Orcas” was inspired by the 17-day ordeal in which the orca whale Tahlequah (J35), forsaking nourishment, pushed her infant, its heart unbeating, through the Pacific Northwest,” something Green referred to as “a tour of grief.”

“One of the natural forces in this play is Yemoja, the mother of the children of fish,” Green said, adding Yemoja is the top layer of the ocean and Olokun is the bottom layer. “Tahlequah turns to the forces of Yemoja/Olokun to put her pain in the past.”

Green noted that the ocean is “a sort of liquid graveyard.”

“As Tahlequah journeys, we are “invoking the memory of the transatlantic slave trade, and the memory of those who chose or who were pushed off the ships, and their home is in the ocean,” Green added.

Dance of the Orcas streams on demand starting April 29 through May 2. The event will be available for streaming on demand. The virtual performance costs $7. You can buy tickets here.

Tickets can be purchased online through the Kimball Theatre box office website or by calling the box office at 757-221-2674. For more information, email the

The video below is a special behind-the-scenes look, courtesy of W&M.



Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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