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Performing Gender: Five stories told through dance

Telling my mum about the performance I had seen at Yorkshire Dance on Friday evening was challenging, because we spoke German to each other and there is no word in my mother tongue that does justice to the concept of gender. In English, the word has grown to carry a very rich meaning far beyond a simple “male and female” and so I ended up borrowing it to tell her about the five dance performances international artists have developed at Yorkshire Dance to share different experiences, thoughts and feelings about gender identity.

Performing Gender is a 2-year programme Yorkshire Dance is working on with partners from Italy, Slovenia, Spain and The Netherlands. Together they explore how sexual orientation and gender are viewed in societies across Europe and how these perceptions as well as the very personal feelings of an individual can be expressed through dance.

“When you are scared, I wish you bravery.” – Koldo Arostegui González, Dancer participating in Performing Gender

From 25th May to 2nd June 2018, Yorkshire Dance has hosted five dance artists from all of the project’s partner countries for a week-long workshop and training at the end of which they performed their individual interpretations of the theme on Friday. Powerful images of masculinity and femininity were connected with stories of the personal struggle of transforming gender and finding recognition for one’s own sexual orientation; and expressions of fear and enforced gender roles were carefully balanced with visualisations of bravery and the joy we can draw from being accepted as who we are.

Cllr Hannah Bithell (2nd right), LBT woman and non-binary champion for Leeds City Council

After this engaging performance, the Performing Gender project is far from over. If you are a dance artist aged 20-25 you can apply to join this professional development opportunity in October or as an individual from the LGBTQI+ community aged 16+ you can become part of Gender Moves, a series of conversations, workshops and performances exploring gender identity.

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