Rocking the Boat: Celebrating Queer Content in Canadian Concert Dance is an exhibit currently running through April 1 at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. The exhibit is run by Dance Collection Danse, spawned from the mind of Pamela Grundy, a former dancer with the Danny Grossman Dance Company.
“Historically in dance there has been a lot of implied work. I decided to focus on the works and people who created them who were declared,” said Grundy.
Grundy wanted to look at the themes they were trying to relate rather than a room full of gay choreographers. She wanted to talk about the theme and try to give it some context through the video, costumes and designs.
The display features artifacts such as costumes, advertisements, props, and pictures from dance pieces of the choreographers such as Jean Grand Maïtre, José Navas, Charles Flanders, William Douglas, Hari Krishan, George Stamos, Eryn Dace Trudel, Danny Grossman, Alvin Tolentino, ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company and Conrad Alexandrowicz.
With only one female name on the list Grundy said, “There appears to be a low numbers of lesbians in dance, or at least low visibility.”
Some stills from the lone female Dace Trudel’s Fish Stew can be seen in the exhibit. According to the blurb above the photo, her inspiration spawned from sex. She created a piece that captured the way two women are when engaging in intercourse and the way the movements differ from heterosexual sex.
Themes in the exhibit were not only limited to homosexuality, but defying societal definitions of gender as well.
Grundy described a piece she had done for Grossman called Nobody’s Business as “a bit of a gender swap.” She said he gave the men the typically feminine movements and women the typically masculine.
Following with the statement of defying gender norms, a costume sketch from Alexandrowickz’s Hard Drive features a design for a section in the dance when a man becomes pregnant.
Visually some of the items that stood out were from Stamos’ work, which featured two lucha wrestling masks from his piece Lik-Lik Pik and a rather interesting mask that is made of two wigs from his piece Croque-Monsieur.
Accessories from Tolentino’s piece Swan Diva, which is a takeoff of the famous Dying Swan, also stand out as pieces of note. A feather boa and gloves as well as a picture of the wings he wore for the dance were displayed.
Overall, the exhibit was very unique and highly informative. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in gender, sexuality or just expression through dance.
What is the point of the exhibit you may ask? “(To) seek out the ones who did make this kind of content and celebrate that,” answered Grundy.