Donna Jacobs paces the front of the room, watching her dancers complete a series of lifts, drags and drops to the floor.
She nods approvingly but wants more. She’s helping her ensemble get into character to tell the story of a woman they all know well by this point and are working hard to portray through movement.
“You have watched these families struggle, and you’ve been sitting back thinking about this and decide the time is now,” Jacobs says to the dancers, who pant after finishing an aerobic section of her piece.
Jacobs, 59, of Ellicott City, is referencing Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist credited with helping hundreds of slaves escape to...