We want to start by saying that this response should be read as a collection of voices that want to continue the discussion concerning the objectification of women as seen in Frelon, specifically in this year’s “Man Dance.” It is the consensus of all involved that the opening-up of this discussion was a positive thing. For that, we thank the author of last week’s article and those who have participated in the conversation so far.
We want to continue on to say that we were disappointed to see such a one-sided representation of Frelon. In years past, there have been reviews of the show as a whole, encompassing many if not all of the dances and giving a more holistic perspective of the company. It is important to note that every choreographer who participated in Frelon this year worked incredibly hard for over sixteen weeks, and should be acknowledged more appropriately for their efforts.
In terms of the “Man Dance” specifically, it is difficult for a single choreographer, in this case Dwight Trice, to take on the representation of an entire program. To deduce that either the dancers or the choreographer were unaware of the socially charged nature of the dance itself is assumptive. In truth, many of the people involved were completely conscious of how the dance came off. “I meant for the dance to be satirical—I wanted it to mock chauvinism,” said Trice tonight, when a group of Frelon participants met to discuss the matter.
The issue of sexuality and the ability to express it also came up during our discussion. “I don’t consider myself to be a “sexy” person in day-to-day life, and for me to be able to play that part on stage, and for me to have that safe place to do it in, that’s really important to me,” said Monica Sidor, one of Frelon’s directors this year. Many of the dancers involved in Frelon feel that the stage is a place where they can perform a role that they aren’t able to express at any other time. The issue here is not how right or wrong this fact is, or how right or wrong the type of expression is, but whether people are encouraged or discouraged from doing it. “[The stage] is a space where you can share a certain kind of confidence with other people—it’s OK to inspire that in others, and not feel judged for it” said Kylie Shaw, one of Frelon’s dancers.
If a chauvinistic character were written into a work of fiction, or a male centered, heterosexual painting was to be displayed in a museum, the author and/or artist would probably not be pinpointed as being in support of misogyny. They might be recognized for characterizing an unavoidable fact of our world—that we live in a male-dominated, hetero-normative society—but in that case, change should be brought to society itself, and blame should not be placed squarely on the shoulders of artistic representation. “I feel like the messages [so far] have been so clouded in negativity that some of the true arguments are lost,” said Shaw. So in an effort to simultaneously continue a respectful discussion and move away from blame, we offer this as our collective opinions.