Nasty, anxy, dead, stuck, glitter, glamour, queeny and awkward are just a few of the descriptive vocabulary used throughout our two-week residency with Eoghan Dillon for the extended version of Boys Are. We had a little taste of what he was going to throw at us through his dance film of “Boys Are”. Speaking on the societal issue of gender norms and what a male or female should and shouldn’t be. But, little did I know, the final product was nothing that I would’ve expected for our queer program. Ever since I’ve been working with Joshua on his works speaking upon LGBTQ topics, I’ve been intrigued in different approaches to this topic when it comes to dance works. Eoghan’s process on voicing his perspective and what is of importance to him was very eye opening and inspiring. Inspiring in the strong use of women, the theatrical aspect of putting on different faces, explanations of where his brain space was and just the use of his movement vocabulary.
When first learning Eoghan’s movement, I don’t think anyone’s brain was ready for such fast and detailed work. His aesthetic required a lot use of effort, tension and sitting in the pocket for lack of better words. The movement was heavily driven by the music, hitting musical cues or capturing the very catchy lyrics of Lesley Gore. It took us a while to actually find where we needed force, effort and resistance behind our movement since we’ve been working a very specific and differently efficient way of moving with Joshua. But this wasn’t anything out of the norm when you work with a new guest artist. What made it even more challenging was making six dancers with different aesthetics look the same within the context of Eoghan’s choreographic voice. Because there was so much detail and fast paced it was sometimes easy to lose those details in body translation. It was a switch both physically and mentally for us for sure. As we got further into the creation there were a lot of theatrical aspects of the piece that once finished really highlighted and heightened the piece. This created quite the emotional rollercoaster of extremes and a little bit of a balance between both. But what helped with some of those changes between the extremes were the song choices. Lesley Gore gave you a very youthful sitcom feel. Making you feel like a confused teen that just got a new pair of legs and trying them on for the first time. While the newly composed music gave you a curious and anxious battleground feel, except with the idea of avoidance and non-confrontational.
Throughout the process Eoghan spoke a lot about his ideas, what he wanted for each section and what this piece stood for. Two things in his discussions really stuck out and registered in my brain. One was him mentioning that too much and over the top wasn’t what he was looking for. It was easy to get carried away with the acting. But getting the point across without doing and trying too much was already there from the movement and how the work was set up. That right there on its own was enough. No more. No less. Once you start doing too much extra acting and movement, it starts to take away from the work. Another idea that Eoghan spoke of that made going forward a little easier was his talk about having to stand up for the importance of Pride. From the outside eye and those who don’t understand the culture of LGTBQ, they receive it as doing the most for Pride. That all the glitter and glam that people put on during Pride was just for attention and sometimes even unnecessary. Granted there are some that do it for attention. But the main point being, this extravagant person that people think isn’t the real you is just an extension of you. Stripping away that outer layer and showing your true colors, free of judgment. So of course they pull out the extravagant clothes, bright colors, feathers, make up and colored wigs. It’s the freedom of expression towards everyday life as a homosexual. And it’s the freedom aspect of Pride and the continuous fight for acceptance and inclusiveness that gives Pride its importance to the LGBTQ communities all over. This piece really exemplifies and hits some of those key points. Moments of giving in to the outside judgment and moments of not giving two cares in the world. What a statement to make in a world that wants to mold you into what they think is morally or ethnically right. Going against the gender norms and capturing all the emotions associated with it. Who said a woman can’t be masculine or a man be feminine?
After the piece was set and completed, I thought about how insightful it was to watch as a spectator and a dancer. Being able to watch his ideas unfold and having an outside eye into knowing what to pay attention to when I jump in. It was really challenging for me at first and I freaked out because after learning a large chunk of choreography I was thrown right into it. In which I didn’t have much practice with in the actual dance space and surprisingly didn’t butcher too much on my first attempt. But what came out of it was learning a lot about patience, the importance of simplicity, confidence and vulnerability. Excited for us to share this piece as a part of our LGBTQ program in January and keep the conversation going. Or started for those who haven’t really put much thought into the glitter, glam and glitz of the queers.