Gender Lab response - Mari Bo

Mari Bø by Geraldine Heaney

Gender Lab response - Mari Bø

🌈 What has the PUSH Gender-Lab meant to me?

Post-PUSH-Lab I find myself going through my earlier productions, analysing dancers I have worked with, and going through the way I have worked with their way of moving. Dealing with topics of gender and sexuality are not always straightforward in dance performances that do not have any narrative, but I want to be more aware of how I deal with these issues, both artistically and in a day-to-day setting.


I think a lot of people go about their daily business feeling that the term “gender” does not impact them. I myself entered this lab feeling very excited, but also thinking that I was a bit more boring than queer; being a white, middle class female, engaged to my high-school boyfriend and secure in my identity as a “straight girl”. During the PUSH-Lab I went through a lot of different feelings and questions, about myself, about people around me and about society in general. I am left with the thought that it is the preconceptions about queerness, about being gay or being different, that tend to make people think it doesn’t concern them. We draw a lot of conclusions by appearances, and I think it is time to ask what opportunities we are missing by putting ourselves into these gender stereotypes?

One of my most beautiful realisations was that gender and sexuality does concern us, it concerns the people around us, our friends, our kids, our neighbours and our audiences. Another realisation was that these topics cannot be overlooked simply because some of us find them hard to deal with.

Sometimes I must remind myself that if I am able to have sex, I am certainly able to talk about it, and that thinking and talking about myself as a sexual being is a good thing. I believe that honesty and openness are key words in all kinds of relationships; we need to talk openly about gender and sexuality, we have to watch, create and program art that can discuss the topics of sex, gender and identity. And we should not be afraid to make this kind of work for children. Kids grow up looking at cartoons where you can fall off a cliff without hurting yourself, I think we can trust them to understand that love can be genderless.

Art has a responsibility towards society, introducing different viewpoints and presenting new/old/great ideas to the public. Working with performing arts for children we have an especially huge responsibility, because we might be influencing the way society will be working in 20 years’ time (give or take). Whatever influence we are wielding today will not show itself until some years have passed, and the kids we performed for have grown up to be sensible and queer adults.

BUT: we also have a responsibility of presenting and portraying these issues to people who cannot feel it in their own bodies. We cannot expect the hetero normative straight white guy to instantly understand and commiserate with what being a young, transgendered black kid feels like. People cannot read minds. The average-every-day-person might not know what the letters LGBT+ stand for, some will not know the difference between “transgendered” and “transvestite”, a lot of us have never felt unsure about which bathroom to use and most have never been kicked out of a pub for being queer. During the PUSH-Lab I learned the words behind the letters and the difference meaning of the terms, I started going to the mens bathroom and was kicked out of the Tolbooth Tavern. I got to feel a small part of it, and it changed me. Now I present us all a challenge: talk about it, present it, discuss it, dance it, ululate it, scream it, protest it, write a song about it, whisper it, queer the bus with it, draw a picture of it, write a screenplay about it, AND DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO TO, to make people understand it, to make them look at something from a different angle.

The PUSH-Lab is finished and I am left trying to understand my own thoughts and feelings. One of my conclusions is that I am in fact not boring at all, I am very interesting! I have a lot to offer people of all genders, sexual preferences and age groups, and I intend to offer it up on a silver platter, starting with kids.

I will not rest, I will not be content with “almost” having equality, or accepting that “most people” can wear what they want, love who they want, and relieve themselves without worrying about which toilet to use. Our bodies, minds and desires are our own, we are all beautiful, and oh! dear, we are indeed all queer!