As I sit and dwell over my whole website having been unwillingly remodelled due to technical issues I realize this present struggle of mine is not unlike the theme of Juxtapose presented by Live Art Dance Productions. The content is completely the same, but the appearance has changed drastically. How important is appearance, when the make up of the thing that is, is the same?
Barbie doll silhouettes present themselves at the front of the stage and begin a sultry rendition of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russel’s “Little Rock”. The voices are confident, smokey, precise. Their poise; outstanding.
Juxtapose unravels before us; the unsuspecting audience. We watch as the girls flaunt, strut, grunt, pout, prance, flop and morph before our eyes. Achieving the convincing air of the “idealistic” picture of a woman (mostly referring to the 50’s era when this was still a popular goal) Ooooooozing a sexuality throughout that changes from sultry and seductive to desperate and dismal. Instructions on lady hood turn into a peep show, turns into a complete and utter mess. No, literally there was a huge mess on the stage.
The pair, Cecilia Moisio (choreographer and dancer) and Katarzyna Sitarz use text, some very impressive physical stamina and some well played out theatrics and dance to attack full force issues of feminine ideals. Well designed costumes and props help build context as baking flour is thrown in the air, a cake creates suspense and metaphor and the beautiful dresses solidify their picture perfect beginning.
Here’s a quick warning: Juxtapose is not pretty. But is the angst, anger and tragedy of womanhood and sexuality always pretty? No, in fact it rarely is. A tension filled performance; it was much like that of the mood of a premenstrual woman, wondering how much further, if possible the boundaries would be pushed. Perfection becomes an ugly desperation; we’ve all seen the way a struggle to please can become an utterly tragic plead.
In some ways, I imagined a more shocking and intimate dialogue surrounding the difficult topic of feminism in an age where women still struggle to gain footholds because of silent smaller systemic sexist concerns, rather than blatant oppression. But that was my preconceived notion provoked by the theme itself, and my personal opinion of feminism in 2016.
Instead the experience I had was comparable to that of a sexual encounter that isn’t *ahem* warmed up properly. One minute you’re sharing a bottle of wine and the next you’re staring at an unfamiliar ceiling.
Perhaps Moisio constructed the show in this way as a sort of revenge in her own right. It is interesting that even as a woman watching, as the lenses were removed chunk by chunk, my view of the women completely changed. From captivation to disenchantment they exhausted every angle available to them to create a chaotic unravelling.
At points in the show I felt solidarity with the women baring their fangs before us, and felt the stir of turmoil I experience as a personal conflict characterized by intense feminine emotion arises behind closed doors. Moisio and Sitarz certainly deconstruct the female emotional perturbation that ultimately comes with being a woman.
All in all I’m happy to have been given the opportunity to reflect on my personal stance on feminism. And it stirred quite the discussion over a donair with the company I saw the show with; my Father and his girlfriend.
Let me paint this picture for you: speaking of donairs, one night I ordered one and realizing I needed to get walking to a show I was attending took the wrap to go. As I walked in heels and a cute dress up Spring Garden road the mess of donair sauce began to drip down my arms, spilling out onto my legs, over my hands; it was everywhere. But realizing that the taste of Halifax’s token food item was more important to me than how people perceived me I just kept walking and eating letting the thing completely overrun any chance I had of looking sharp for the night. I guess what I’m trying to say is that women should never let their gender or appearance keep them from enjoying the taste of life. This is certainly something we could all learn from Cecilia Moisio and Katarzyna Sitarz’s bravery in this exposé of feminism.
$30 General/ $25 Seniors/$20 Students