Rites of gender as a roving performance

Stylin’ I! To meander through downtown as part of Genderfest

Many of this week’s Genderfest events offer opportunities to reflect on and discuss the meaning of gender, and Stylin’ I! is no exception.

Self-billed as an “unauthorized roving performance in the skywalk/underground,” collaborators Coral Maloney and Ian Mozdzen will present the latest incarnation of a piece that first appeared in a 2011 Young Lungs Dance Exchange performance.

Along with musical promises of “ideal beauty and sexuality,” Maloney and Mozdzen “interrogate” this notion by robotically performing the grooming “rites” that humans do all the time.

“We juxtapose these rites with speed, intensity, repetition, oddball conversation, ‘correctness’ or ‘wrongness,’ procedural attitude, [and] sculptural images,” says Maloney.

As these beauty rites are performed simultaneously by both Maloney and Mozdzen, the gendered nature of these acts are called into question, as well as the nature of gender itself.

“Through performing gendered rites together we create a blank slate. The blanker the slate, the more we feel.”

While the piece itself has changed since 2011 “to accommodate the context and where we are at as ‘I,’” the location will also be changing throughout the piece. Maloney and Mozdzen recently performed a roving version of Stylin’ I! as part of Art Souterrain 2013 in Montreal, which “was a foundation for this next go-around.”

“It always seemed that Stylin’ I! would work in this context. It’s a ‘friendly’ piece, but strange enough to elicit complicated experience.”

Maloney and Mozdzen expect that the piece could inspire a variety of reactions from audiences as they pass through.

“It’s all appropriate given the nature of the piece – which is to induce head scratching, body/bodily consciousness, spatial awareness, and the humour, and delight, and discomfort found in the performance of self.”

Stylin’ I! will be reincarnated once again on Feb. 7 at 2:05 p.m., beginning at the Convention Centre and continuing through the indoor walkway system.