The piece pays special attention to play's critical stance on gender performativity. The characters wear traditional masculinity as a costume or camouflage for self-defense purposes. As a nod to this idea of 'passing', I've employed an excessively 'feminine' aesthetic (lace, grace, quiet flexibility, purity, ornamentality, etc) addressing the idea of conformity as a coping mechanism in a culture unfriendly towards gender deviance. In First Dance, the characters seek to deviate without seeming deviant and find revolution without the boat-rocking as they work to carve new traditions out of a history that excludes them. In traditional ballroom dance, gender roles are forced upon participants by the very mechanic of the medium. With this comes the baggage of the subtle violence inherent in gender roles under the surface. The dance steps symbolize cultural expectations and freedom of expression within the confines of allowed behaviours, and in First Dance, the feather step becomes a metaphor for finding an opening within a tradition that appears to offer little flexibility. I've turned Alex Moore's feather step diagram into a recurring, overlaying pattern in order to call attention to the plurality of modes of gender expression and relationship types that exist, but are sometimes invisible to us. The characters describe a notable moment in a salsa club where two men begin to dance and their actions deviate from expectation so much that the normally-crowded floor clears around them. As this seems symbolic of their personal struggles, I have chosen to recreate this moment in the composition of the installation.
Waterloo Community Arts Centre