The Rainbow and Colored Girls Essay

1173 Words 5 Pages
In the physical sense, a rainbow appears after a storm in the sky. It is made up of seven different colors. As it forms an arch, we may look at its shape as being a segment of a complete circle. From the rainbows physical dimensions, Shange draws out other qualities that suit the fluidity and logic of her choreopoem. While it can appear a simple natural phenomenon we take for granted, Shanges choreopoem delivers the rainbow as a complex sustaining figure which forecasts a change in the weather and a change in the life of `the colored girls.' The rainbow is a powerful symbol in Shange's choreopoem. It is not only beautiful in one sense, but it's meaning is rather complex. There is more to the rainbow than its seven colors.

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From this we may see the rainbow as survival (after the storm) and reason to live (clearing sky).

To the `colored girls' who have considered suicide, Shange presents the rainbow as a reason to want to live. The choreopoem insists that `colored girls' have the choice of living true. In more ways than one, Shange points to the inner-rainbow. It is for the colored girls to look inside themselves to see the rainbow. The costume of the performers is a supplied visual representation of the colors of this rainbow. Finding the rainbow within is part of their struggle as they are forced to live as `reglar niggars'. Shange insists that their initiation into womanhood should rightfully be one of celebration instead of oppression of their beauty and possibilities. The relation of the rainbow to colored girls is linked through the deliverance of the words as chants, songs, and poems. The duality of dance movement with song or words is described as being an ancient African form. [Neal A.Lester, Ntozake Shange, A Critical Study of the Plays, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York & London, 1995] Shange's recreation of this form expresses her determination to hold on to her ancestral `stuff'.

The dancing and the music that is part of the choreopoem are for those memories and hopes that cannot be completely expressed through conventional readings of poetry or play. When words fail, the ladies of color dance.
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