Dead Men Don’t Dance: Medul·la

Dismantling patriarchy one dance move at a time? Sign me up! I hunted for a ticket to La Coja Dansa‘s award-winning production Medul·la at the 2019 edition of Dansa Valencia. It promised to test “the limits of the classical concept of masculinity, the pain of living within them and the dangers of approaching the margins.” Just as my relationship with my own (white) masculinity, the experience was… fun(ny), heartbreaking, mansplainly didactic, queer in unexpected degrees and places, physically demanding, “all of the above”. Above all, it was confusing. But isn’t there liberation in chaos?! 

Here is the grumble. It was a show in search of a genre. We witnessed locker room talk, martial arts training, competitive homoeroticism, corporate coronation, rams locking horns, the whole nine yards and every other manly and unmanly behavior manifested on stage. Styled in Everlast shorts and Boxeur T-shirts, (white) toxic masculinity ran amok. For the show’s delightful highlights, please, reread the list above. A show in search of a genre is a story of a species (white males) scavenging for meaning and purpose in a lifescape altered by a sequence of post-digital, economic, cultural and environmental points of no return. It was appropriately performed at La Nau, the heart of Universitat de València since the mid-fifteenth century! It is time to unlearn, oh yes, it is. Like a full stop in the middle of a word, Medul·la is a hiccup in our culture’s obsessive karaoke rendition of “My Way”. Frank who is a man, what has he got Sinatra can’t help us now. 

medulla5For all its kitchen-sink-ness, Medul·la managed to align its show chakras in two moments of levity. The halfway(ish) point welcomed the nude cast with balloons tied to penises. If there is a more potent performative metaphor for social impotence of white patriarchy, I’m yet to see it. [Instagram promptly censored that posted image]. And the freestyle finale with teenager Pablo Ten Rodríguez in all the unabashed “dolor y gloria” of puberty was brilliant. A man who takes himself too seriously to dance is a dead man dying.

Watch the full performance on Vimeo and insta-follow Miguel Angel SweeneyIvan Colom Villar, Santiago Martinez and Santi de la Fuente!

See also my review of Gran Bolero by Jesus Rubio Gamo from Dansa Valencia 2019.

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