North Texas Daily

Performers challenge gender norms through dance

Performers challenge gender norms through dance

March 07
12:45 2013

Caydee Ensey

Contributing Writer

The Multicultural Center is partnering with local dancers in the first production of Gender Equity Through Dance, using physicality to make its point.

The inaugural event at 5 p.m. tonight in the Silver Eagle Suite consists of two dances that focus on eliminating gender-related violence and pre-conceived ideas of gender roles. Both performances are free and open to the public, and are a collaboration betweenthe Multicultural Center, the Women’s Studies program and Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance.

Educational psychology professor Prathiba Natesan is the first act of the night. She is also an award-winning performer of the Kalakshetra style of Indian dance.

“Expressing yourself with your body is one of the most vulnerable things you can do,” Natesan said. “We hope that when they see us in the barest of the bare states, that will encourage them to talk about solutions to these issues.”

The local modern dance group, Big Rig Collective, will perform an original piece called “Grit.”

Co-director Lily Sloan said its choreography is “rough, tumble-y and unruly, breaking the traditional gender barriers in dance.”

She said that in ballet, it’s typical to see men lifting women.

“But in Big Rig, each person is using their own sense of momentum and weight and counterbalance,” Sloan said. “They are basic laws of physics and anyone can lift anyone. I think that can be applied to perceptions of relationships and gender roles.”

A preview for this event was held on Valentine’s Day, where about 30 student dancers gathered outside Willis Library for a flash mob.

The event honored One Billion Rising, a worldwide movement that aims to end cycles of oppression and violence against women.

“These events are meant to use dance as a form of speaking out for social justice issues,” said Uyen Tran-Parsons, director of multicultural programming with the Multicultural Center. “We want to focus on what you as an individual can do to speak out when you see these injustices being committed.”

Clark Pomerleau, a history professor and a training facilitator with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender support group Ally, will be moderating conversations following each performance.

He said he believes that UNT is accepting of most gender preferences and hopes to spark further conversation by using the arts for activism.

“We have so much tolerance for bad behavior when it comes to gender-specific violence and micro-aggression,” Pomerleau said. “These problems are coming from everyone and effecting everyone.”

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