By: Sara Azzarelli
After two years spent exploring, discussing and debating the anthropological intersection between dance and gender within my Choreomundus studies, I was waiting, even more intensely than in the past years, for the 2014 edition of the Gender Bender, an International Festival that takes place annually in Bologna, Italy, since 2003. The festival explores issues such as gender identity, sexual orientation and body representation stemming from contemporary culture. It proposes a quite various series of events ranging from films showing, visual art exhibitions, installations, dance and theatre performances, round tables and conferences. Also this year, from the 25th of October to the 2nd of November 2014, the city has hosted a number of artists, performers, writers and scholars who investigate and discuss, through a variety of media, the richness of cultural diversity.
Obviously, what mainly stimulates my interest about the festival and will hopefully intrigue the readers of the CAA’s blog, is the quite rich and variegated series of dance performances characterising the festival. In different modalities, dancers and choreographers from all over the world have used bodies and movements to stimulate reflections and create awareness among a heterogeneous audience, about the complexity of gender, sex, sexuality. I will attempt to give you the taste of some of the brilliant pieces part of the program.
Among the Italian artists in the program, we could find Francesca Foscarini with the piece Guft Gift, a solo that the Israeli choreographer Yasmeen Godder created for her, Welcome to my World by Ezio Cosimi and Alberi by Fabrizio Favole.
These pieces and many others have given to people from different social contexts and ages living in Bologna or coming from elsewhere for the festival, the opportunity to watch and feel how rich cultural diversity is. Diverse were the bodies that were dancing, the ways they were moving, interacting, destabilising their supposed socially accepted characteristics, deconstructing and reconstructing pieces of identity.
Like every year, the Gender Bender International Festival, had shed light on how differences structure society from a human, social, cultural point of view and make it rich, interesting and beautiful.
For the first time in Italy, we had the opportunity to assist to Legitimo Rezo, a solo created by the choreographer William Forsythe for Jone San Martin, Spanish deaf dancer he has collaborated with since 1992. The piece focuses on the space between what is merely heard and what is deeply understood.
We also enjoyed a lively dispute between men and women looking for their sexual identities though their relationships: Complexe de Genres, a piece with which the Canadian artist Virginie Brunelle participates for the second time to the Gender Bender Festival.
The duo Cascas D’ovo by Portuguese choreographer Patrick Lander presents a dialogue between bodies and emotions, in which two blindfolded men (Patrick Lander and Jonas Lopes) interact in the dark. The choreographer tells us ‘This is not a love story’, paraphrasing Magritte’s words ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’(this is not a pipe): these words describe a dance piece in which love is incessantly constructed and denied at the same time.
Journey is the impossible encounter, both on stage and through dance, of two generations quite distant from each other: Koen de Preter, 33 years old, Belgian choreographer and dancer, meets Alphea Pouget, 89, Swedish dancer and educator. The artists touch and explore the distance that separate them, until they are united through their common love for dance.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in all posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the association or the MA program.