For over a year, the cast shared articles, videos, and personal experiences. These inspirations informed the writing, imagery, movement, and music that make the performance.
Below you will find guiding questions and selected resources from the research process.
The Tutorial looks at the process of assimilating into popular culture. Beginning with beauty standards, we unpack the lessons that we learn about how to "acceptably" present as "woman." This section introduces the juxtaposition of the individual experience within a group. The guiding question here is "How do we navigate society's idealized view of femininity?"
The prologue positions us inside of a circus metaphor and introduces the greater concept of "The Beautiful Carcass". The Carcass or Carc refers to the reduction of womxn from people to bodies. Throughout history and across cultures, the female assigned form has been simultaneously revered and abused. The ensemble personifies what contemporary society calls womxn's issues - beauty standards, reproductive rights, body autonomy, violence against womxn, rape culture, and personal freedom. The guiding question for the prologue is "how do we perform race, gender and sexuality?" We have chosen the circus as a metaphor because of it's hyperbolic relationship to reality. The circus speaks to the performative nature of gender. Within this metaphor we explore both the internal and external experiences of "the show".
In The Clinic, we dissect internalized oppression. We examine quieter, less direct influences, and how they affect the choices we make about our bodies. Sometimes these choices are extreme. Sometimes they are subtle. Sometimes we are directly forced into situations. There are times when others tell us/teach us what is best for us. The deepest layer of internalized oppression is when we choose to change ourselves, distorting our true nature, based on the feedback we receive as we grow up. Here we start to look at body autonomy in a deeper way. With baby dolls, we interrogate the institution of motherhood, who we "play with" and how, representation, and white skin bias, connecting back to beauty standards. In this section we ask, "how much agency do we have within our choices? Is my choice really my choice?"
Throughout generations of oppression, how have women survived, maintained a sense of choice and cultivated resilience? Here, we bump up against our limits. We are trained to govern, police and self-regulate our feelings, expression and rage. This section explores the concept of "feral" as a way of being. Womxn have been forced to ignore and tame our authentic selves. We practice making ourselves small, and prioritize the comfort of others. Physically the dancers come up against invisible walls and find alternate routes and changes in perspective. This manifests through the process of moving in and out of the floor over and over again. The ensemble begins to find power in pack mentality. We draw strength from recognizing that we are the descendants of survivors. We find power in our ancestors and those who've come before us. Connecting to community becomes a survival tool.
The Lion & the Tamer
"The Lion & the Tamer" is the interplay between the large and empowered self against the self that has been conditioned to stand down. We sift through the patterns of social conditioning and implicit training that womxn are subjected to from birth. Inside of this paradox are all the contradicting standards womxn face.
President Gauze Head
This image is in direct response to the open disrespect of womxn's bodies and experiences in the current political climate. Not even the leader of our country stands up for us. He is actively part of the problem. The text is the result of a google search "slang words for women".
The Chorus of Disregarded Dames
This moment is about drawing boundaries. As a result of objectifion, when we speak we are disregarded, interrupted and trivialized. The impetus for this vignette was an article calling out 3 phrases that every woman should know and become comfortable using.
Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself
This section pays homage to the strength of womxn. We are connected to our physical and emotional selves. Here we look to the future and work for unity that is not at odds with diversity.
Granny Gauze Head
Granny Gauze Head is a symbol of survival. Her yarn suggests that there is no single answer to this complex and tangled set of issues. There is no silver bullet that kills this particular beast. We carry this work forward generationally. We each have our own knots to untangle. We continue to examine the gnarl with great patience and care.