The new year brought together the Dance Company, Passinho Carioca, with GlobalGRACE Brazil partners Instituto Promundo, Instituto Maria e João Aleixo, Observatório de Favelas, and Instituto de Relações Internacionais/PUC-Rio to articulate an artistic residency at Arena Carioca Dicró in Penha, Rio de Janeiro, to experiment with possibilities of opening up dialogues on masculinities and gender relations in and through artistic languages, notably dance and music. To incorporate possibilities of doing gender otherwise. Beyond the limits of words and intentions, as it is in the body that gender norms and pacts take force.
From the end of January to early March, the stage at Arena Dicró became home to our Friday afternoon encounters, where six of the Company´s dancers – youth ranging from 18 to 25 years, with gender parity and majority black, and from diverse peripheries of Rio – met with educators, researchers, dancers and artists of varied fields, putting on the table the discussion of gender, notably through the lens of masculinities, as a way of implicating the relationality and recentering a debate so often focused on “the woman problem”.
In our first week together, Andreza Jorge and Simonne Alves from the Maré-based Dance Company, Mulheres ao Vento (Women of the Wind), initiated the dialogues questioning what is at stake in talking about gender, how the arts can contribute to and democratize this debate, and intersectional analyses of masculinities and counter-hegemonic practices. They got us off with the question, “Why does freedom bother people so much?” and continue to accompany the youth in their own creative process, sharing experiences of mounting a dance company with a shared vision of artistic and political transformation.
In the following weeks, Rafaela Cotta, artist, psychologist, and Promundo educator and researcher, broadened our perspectives on gender bringing in film and discussions of sexuality and gender identity to flesh out the debate on masculinities, violence, and empowerment. Linda Cerdeira, educator and researcher also with Promundo, put forward a discussion on care and paternity, as a way to rethink gender roles and heteronormative models, which predetermine who is responsible for what, and proposed various exercises to cultivate more equitable relations in home, community, work, and varied interconnected contexts, including within our social and artistic movements.
Our final dialogue was facilitated by Promundo educator and researcher Luciano Ramos, who brought the discussion on black masculinities and racial pacts so as to reposition how we deal with masculinities, gender, and intersectional forces such as race, territory, class, age, sexuality, among numerous conjunctures that were brought up by the group and collectively workshopped.
Throughout these discussions, the accompaniment of GlobalGRACE researchers, artists, and cultural producers brought other related questions to bare on the dialogue of the day, and each session was interwoven and closed by reflections on how to work these conversations in corporal language, through dance, with the youth participants taking the lead, often making parallels with gendered norms within the dance movements, namely the funk and passinho movements in which they are situated, and how they work to transform the limits and possibilities that the body presents to rework inherited gender relations.
In coming to terms with “movements suitable for girls” and “movements suitable for boys”, the body became the stage of the permanent dispute that is the decolonization of gender relations. And in the month of March, the Dance Company Passinho Carioca, together with the support of Mulheres ao Vento, will take the lead in creating a show that expresses these dialogues on masculinities, to be debuted on April 10th at Arena Dicró, and later at Galpão Bela Maré in May at the opening of the GlobalGRACE multilingual artistic residency to come. These artistic productions, together, will compose the space of our final exhibition in August of 2020, and continue to ground accompanying documentary and research processes of the GlobalGRACE Brazil team.