In the world of dance, gender neutrality, and roles where men play women, have been a norm for centuries. The National Museum of Dance in Saratoga will explore concepts of gender in dance in a new exhibition opening on April 19.
In 2013, the museum received a collection belonging to Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, an all-male troupe formed in 1975–during the time of the Stonewall riots–that parodies the cliches of classic ballet.
That collection, which includes costumes and promotional materials, led to the creation of a new exhibition called Gender Neutral that examines non-traditional gender roles in dance from the present all the way back to the 1800s. “These men do not impersonate women,” said Lisa Kolosek, a curator at the Museum of Dance. “They are playing characters.”
Throughout history women have partnered other women in the ballet, said Kolosek, while men have traditionally played certain female roles. Men have tended to be cast as Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty. More recently, the New York City Ballet featured two men falling in love in “Not Our Fate”. Taylor Stanley and Preston Chamblee performed a pas de deux — a dance that is traditionally about the love between a man and a woman. Same-sex relationships have become increasingly prevalent in modern ballet.
Kolosek said that while the impetus of the exhibit was to explore concepts of dance, she thinks it is inevitable that it will prompt a larger discussion of gender roles in the modern world. “Our focus is always on dance, on the history and concepts of dance that go as far back as the 1800s. However, there are timely issues about gender and gender neutrality that will inevitably come to the surface,” said Kolosek.
The exhibit will open to the public on April 19 at 6:30 PM. In attendance will be the entire Trockadero cast, who will be performing at The Egg on Friday, April 20 at 8 PM. The performance is a collaboration between the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and The Egg.