Cherish Menzo (The Netherlands, Belgium) – JEZEBEL



ATTENTION. Spectators arriving late will not be admitted to the performance.

Duration: 55 min.

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 2000s.

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.

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 today?

“Initially there was an urgency, a personal need to create something different, to give myself the possibility of proposing a representation of my body that was my own and, in that way, to escape the stereotypes that were imposed on me. During the creation of the work, I asked a broader question: what is contemporary dance? 

I have a background in contemporary dance, but I don’t subscribe intimately to the references of that environment. I grew up with MTV, so my references in terms of female representation are more on that side. I also realized that I was uncomfortable with the hyper-sexualized representations of black women’s bodies in visual culture and in the media. A generalization such as ‘the black woman’ shouldn’t exist, because there are many ways of being and becoming.

My desire to escape the expected categories – “she’s going to do hip-hop for us, isn’t she?!” – had led me to develop forms of resistance and to be torn by a very conflicting inner dialogue. With JEZEBEL, it was a matter of giving myself some space in which to be free, to seek and accept, in the process of creation, the movements that I was going to make” – Cheriz Menzo.

Cherish Menzo (°1988, The Netherlands) is a performing artist and choreographer, based in Amsterdam and Brussels. For her artistic work she is interested in the transformation of the body on stage and in the “embodiment” of different physical images. Images seem recognisable at first glance, but by highlighting their complexity and contradiction, Cherish questions the apparent norm and creates universes in which the black body stands central. She floats between the nostalgia of 90s and 00s hip-hop, industrial hip-hop, rap lyrics, sci-fi, manga and speculative futures. Using these elements as tools to give shape to – and materialise – uncanny, enigmatic forms and realities. 


Concept, choreography & performance: Cherish Menzo in coproduction with Frascati Producties

Lighting design & technical coordination: Niels Runderkamp

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 Productions

Production management: Bibi Scholten van Aschat

Distrubution and tour management: GRIP and Frascati Productions

With the support of: Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst

Thanks to: Benjamin Kahn and Centre Chorégraphique Le Château

Premiere: Nov 5th, 2019 at Frascati (Amsterdam, NL)

Winner Amsterdam Fringe Award and International Bursary (2019).

Photos: Tatchatrin Choeychom, Annelies Verhelst, Bas De Brouwer, Yaqine Hamzaoui.


May 07 2024


21:00 - 21:55


Arts Printing House, Black Hall