Agata Siniarska - City of Women. Female Trouble

the international festival of contemporary arts in lubljana or how to do things with feminism


but thinking about all these theories, here cats wander without a smile. i can claim many different strategies about gender but that doesn't change the fact that the gender that i am performing and the one that is put upon me by the society i live in, touches me large amount of time. when i walk on the streets and i hear all the exciting whistles and sophisticated invectives directed towards me that makes me feel extremely attractive and sexy. but if i do not want to be sexy, can i really escape any classification. staying only at the level of binary woman – man, we can simply see how in arts it is still a present issue. looking at the situation in dance and choreography, the field that i am operating within, i would like to share some guerrilla's observations. however before that, an assurance: when i use here a word “man”, i am talking especially about white heterosexual man and his position in the society, though as i mentioned before, this binary woman – man opens huge problematic, and as i will mention later – there is very specific situation for gay men in dance community regarding power relations. i don't want here to be an ignorant towards homophobia as well as racism and other discriminations in society. i am aware that the situation of singular is much more complex that what am i proposing here. since the society and thus our thinking are mostly executed by the binarism, i would like to approximate several points at issue:

1. there are always only few men in the artistic study programmes (there are more or less 85% to 95% of women). all these future choreographers graduate with very good marks and promises on their faces. here comes the paradox. when we look at the percentage of choreographers being a part of festivals, residencies, grants, this imbalance shifts to the other side. as an example lets look at the big berliner festival tanz im august: 2014 – 18 men, 13 female choreographers, in 2013 – 19 men, 6 women, in 2012 – 29 men, 14 female, festival impuls tanz vienna 2014: 23 men, 17 women. why there is less women with so called big names in the scene since there were more women during the study program? do the women make worse work? why there is this flip?

without a very sophisticated mathematic knowledge, one can easily notice that if there are only two places in the residency space and one goes to the man, one goes to the woman, keeping in mind the gender percentage of graduated, this situation still doesn't give us a result of 50/50. just to mention: the latest news regarding a berliner grant

for “early birds”, einstiegsförderung has been given to three people from choreography: two men and only one woman. what kind of mathematic law should i apply here? are we talking again about the phenomenon: men got more help structurally, economically, women are more educated with the “sit in the kitchen and be quiet”? i hope not.

2. how is it actually happening that there are more women studying in the department of dance and choreography. maybe it is good to look also at the early education when the girls receiving from their parents carnival costumes plus a desire to be a ballerina or a princess. is dance a woman? it seems like. women are still developing an idea to be ephemeral and so their dance is classified this way. thus it does not need financial support – its destiny is to vanish. ephemeral, fragile, full of grace lady vanishes...and whose parent does not want to see their little girl in the role of a swan!

3. if at the end there is happening a boy during the audition to the department of dance and choreography, that has to be the one! have you ever seen the whole year without at least one boy? obviously schools want diversity and what kind of diversity proposes a group made out of women? one of the major residency in germany - k3 every year chooses three amazing choreographers who are at the beginning of their so called professional careers. remembering the percentage from the choreography departments it should be more than obvious that many time k3 chooses three women. looking at the last six years, that only happened in 2011 but immediately this imbalance was aligned in 2012 when 2 boys were chosen instead. just recently i heard another juicy example – a new, fancy educational programme in berlin called smash was so desperately searching for boys that it was even awarding them with scholarships! and the oscar goes to penis ownership!

i wouldn't choose only girls. they are all the same! having the same tits, the same pussies, the same ideas, the same aesthetics. i think that educational programmes should allow boys study for free or at least for half price. for the diversity has its price.

4. since there are not so many male performers, they have bigger easiness to get the job in the artistic projects (how many call have i seen: we are looking for male dancers/performers, haven't you?) because who wants to make another dance performance only with female performers – screaming hysterical vaginas. as a man, you just get it! again - choreography demands variety. what kind of variety can we achieve only with women on the stage.

i am not saying that men are responsible for all evil that happens in this field. i am not pointing out all these things only to spread the feeling of frustration. i am not demanding to flip the status quo making women living happy forever and after. i believe we need the power of modern critical theories of how meanings and bodies get made, not in order to deny meaning and bodies, but in order to live in meanings and bodies that have chance for the future. instead of confirming status quo we should claim new practices and new way of doing things.