"Virago-Man Dem will allow me to explore the spoken and unspoken attitudes and expressions in Caribbean black masculinities, but which also appear in African American masculinities as they are performed by communities of men, staged on male bodies, but designed and interpreted by a woman—me."
Virago-Man Dem will be an evening-length, dance-theatre work that navigates complexities of black masculinity. In the Caribbean, Virago is a term alluding to that "je ne sais quoi" power that works behind the veil of the world we know. The term's "official" meaning refers to cultural and gender transgression, often used in derogatory relation to a woman who possesses tendencies, like bravery or aggression, that are most associated with men. Cynthia Oliver is interested in these components and especially the transgressive ambiguity of the term, which takes on a very particular life in the Caribbean. Despite the region's rampant homophobia, masculinities in the Caribbean are wildly flexible in the ways they are expressed through personal style, posture, and men's interactions with others.
In Virago-Man Dem, Oliver will work with collaborators Jason Finkelman (composer), John Jennings (visual artist), and others to capture these masculinities through movement, visual mediums, sound environments/music, and the spoken word. The work will be a performance of masculinity that emerges from subtle, intra-gendered movement communications that can be uniquely expressed through choreography. Virago-Man Dem will premiere at Gibney (NYC) in the fall of 2017 with subsequent national touring.