The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Giving a voice to domestic violence

When music and choreographed dance are mentioned, thoughts of domestic violence are rarely quick to follow. Maria’s Voice attempts to meld these elements for audiences.

The Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St., will host Maria’s Voice at 7 p.m. Oct. 12. The event aims to raise awareness of the victims of domestic violence.

The performance is a blend of dance, song, and poetry focusing on relaying the true story of Maria Salazar. A victim of domestic violence, Salazar was killed by her husband in 1931. Her granddaughter, Marcella Goheen, unearthed the story through her own mother decades later.

“We want the public to understand that when you see or read about someone being hurt or killed, that it’s a person and not just a story,” Goheen said. “Too often, we forget about the victim and follow the perpetrator. We have worked on our project to give voice to those victims.”

A large part of the show hinges on dancer, actor, and Tony-Award-winner Savion Glover, who both performs in and conducts the production.

“This is an opportunity to give victims a voice,” said Kristie Fortmann-Doser, the executive director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program. “Domestic violence is so silencing and isolating, I’m glad that the community gets to hear about it in such a unique way.”

Doser’s cohort and the head of the Intervention Program Missie Forbes said she would like to see the audience leaving the theater thinking more of hope and healing rather than violence and murder.

“My hope is that the audience walks away realizing that we all have a connection to domestic violence,” Forbes said. “In our lives, we will all meet someone who has been a victim, and I hope that everyone sees that they can take action.”

One goal of Maria’s Voice is to inspire watchers to examine their own lives and question what they find.

“The show is a look at things that are hard to look at,” Goheen said. “Pretty much all of our media has violence, and we watch that without a problem. But violence in your own life is difficult to look at. We ask the audience, how do you respond? Do you have it in your own family? The show will, hopefully, open people up which is what art does, it’s everything you could want as a storyteller.”

October is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month and those who have put time and talent into ensuring Maria’s Voice appears at the Englert hope the experience helps audiences better understand domestic abuse and its effects.

“[Statistically] one in four women will be battered,” Doser said. “If one in four kids at a school have lice, people freak out. It’s important to value the strength and courage of these victims. As far as criminals go, batterers have more information and access to their victims including their money, home, and relatives. Victims have to have incredible resilience.”


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