BRATTLEBORO -- What do pop culture and mass media tell us about men? And what happens when those messages are examined, illuminated and made to stand on their heads?
Those questions lie at the heart of "Maskulinity: Unfolding Codes of Gender," a contemporary dance project which will be performed on Saturday at 8 p.m., at Luminz Studio in the Cotton Mill.
"Maskulinity" began in the mind of Lacey Byrne, a Connecticut-based women’s studies teacher and dancer/choreographer, who brought her artistic and academic acumen to bear in this new piece.
"I was just really interested in the messaging about what it means to be a man in our culture," said Byrne, artistic director of Salix Productions, which produces "Maskulinity," with choreography by Ras Mikey C. "For me when I did this project I really wanted it to be something that has a purpose, where it adds to the discussion about masculinity. ... I feel passionate that this is so important ... that we have to break down these gender roles because it leads to violence."
Consider "Maskulinity" a step in that direction. Through a handful of choreographed pieces, gender roles in general, and expectations for men in particular, are laid bare.
One piece, "Geppetto" gets at the idea of who controls media images and who’s being controlled by them; another is a duet which shows a man and a woman whose relationship is one of mutual dependence; a third examines conformity;
There’s a funny piece which shows men and women giving each other different greetings -- high-fives, fist bumps, etc -- but going against gender type. The final piece reverses the ways men and women move their hips.
"Movement itself is gendered. We really played with mixing it up," said Byrne.
"Maskulinity" made its debut in Hartford, Conn., this summer, and it generated enthusiastic response and a lively talkback.
"I really wanted it to be something that people can converse about. With art, you feel something as you’re watching it, and it creates these sparks," Byrne said.
Salix Productions creates collaborative performances that illustrate gender experiences while inspiring change. Choreographer Ras Mikey C is director of education for F.I.V.E., which uses dance to express urban, contemporary and cultural ideology.
The performance in Brattleboro came about because one of the dancers in "Maskulinity," Emily Wiadro, used to live here and thought the piece would be a good fit.
Tickets to "Maskulinity" are $15, $12 for seniors and students. Visit www.salixproductions.com.