BOSTON—Societal resistance to gender equality comes center stage in …that’s what she said, a dance production exposing intersectional societal narratives from the feminine experience, including those who are also a part of the LGBTQ+ community, according to the show’s creative director.
“In bringing together a diverse group of femme-identifying choreographers, the production showcases the dynamic range of the feminine experience,” said Kristin Wagner, Creative Director of Lady BOS Productions and member of the …that’s what she said choreographer cohort. “So much of the narrative of both history and the present is controlled by those with the most privileges. I wanted to create a platform for more perspectives in an effort to challenge, or at least diversify or expand, our usual societal narrative.”
In …that’s what she said, part of that “dynamic range” includes artistic works from creative and life partners that are currently researching heteronormativity and public versus private displays of affection.
Angelina Benitez and Rebecca Lang, members of the …that’s what she said choreographer cohort, explore their unfiltered relationship, not only through movement but by a soundscape of intimate, candid and private conversations the couple have experienced in their home.
“In the process of creating this piece, we became fixated on what our sound should be,” said Benitez. “We considered silence among other things but when we turned to the other women in our cohort for advice, one of them suggested the idea of recording the sounds of our home. I took this one step further and started to record us—without Becca’s knowledge. The recordings are candid but have been edited so everything is jumbled. We felt that this would add a layer of vulnerability and context. We wanted to expose things we actually say to each other; the different tonalities, vocabulary, and content that is usually filtered.”
Wagner, also an ally of the LGBTQ+, applauds the work of the women and relates the conversations exposed to her own relationship experiences.
“I absolutely love this element of the work,” said Wagner. “As a witness to the work. I can only make out bits and pieces of the actual conversations. When I do pick up on the specifics, the content ranges from comical to intimate, which feels so relatable to my own experiences in relationships. It adds a layer of authenticity that is not always present in dance theater.”
When others come first
In a scenario all too familiar to same-sex and/or queer partners, relationships are often muted or downplayed in an effort to make others around the couple feel comfortable.
“I feel a constant need to create more space between us in order to make other people feel comfortable,” said Lang. “This comes from a place of internalized homophobia as well as a response to external homophobia.”
According to Benitez, the couple is constantly aware of the reactions and subsequent treatment from others.
“It’s a constant challenge to stay genuine,” she said. “I’ve caught myself letting go of Becca’s hand to refrain from being judged. We’re always aware of other people’s reactions.”
Familial expectations and assumptions can be at the epicenter of the adversity and consequential impact of heteronormativity.
“I think the largest way heteronormativity has impacted us as a couple was when my parents assumed that I would be straight,” added Benitez, who is also a member of the Latinx community. “I was closeted to most of my family when I started dating Becca. I wanted so badly to introduce her to them as my significant other and have it be ‘normal.’ The entire process of coming out to my parents was physically and emotionally tolling but I’m grateful for the counseling and support I received from my community. Thankfully, my parents have since expanded their views and are very supportive of our relationship.”
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