By Sandra Paola Lopez
redmoonwhitemoonbluemoon is a piece exploring themes of the divine feminine created by local dancemaker S. Paola Lopez in collaboration with poet Naima Yael Woods and photographer and filmmaker Laura Bustillos Jaquez. With the support of the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department, The Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts,
redmoonwhitemoonbluemoon will premiere May 26 and 27, 2016.
In our Western contemporary society where menstruation is most often seen as a liability, and where femininity is defined and performed according to white patriarchal subtexts, these three women of color come together as part of a broader movement to redefine constructs of femininity and reclaim the sacredness of menstruation and the female cyclical nature.
“I see this piece as a creative response to a patriarchal system” said Ms. Lopez, “the multibillion-dollar industry of feminine hygiene and ‘beautifying’ products is an institutionalized and normalized oppressive system towards women, and the continuous message is that our bodies need to be corrected, changed and enhanced in order to be accepted. It is outraging that a natural and healthy process such a menstruation (not to mention that is a necessary process for the preservation of our species) is presented as something disgusting, not to be talked about, something to be hidden and controlled in order for women to have a ‘normal’ life.”
Part I: Invoking the Goddess
The piece is in two parts. The first one is designed as a 2-hour installation at the Station Urban Offices during the last-Thursday art walk downtown on May 26th, 2016.
This set up will allow the audience to come and go as they wish and decide how they want to experience the performance. Doors will open at 7:00 PM and will remain open until 9:00 PM. Upon entering, audience members will be guided to the 2nd floor where the piece will be taking place along the hallways of the building. The installation is a combination of live performance by Ms. Lopez, sound recordings of Ms. Woods poetry and a display of pictures by Ms. Bustillos.
The audience should be ready to experience contrasting images of menstruation and femininity, reflected not only by the different mediums, but also by the varied experiences of the artists. “The three of us have very different experiences with our representations of femininity and with our menstrual cycles” said Ms. Woods “and we are interested in exploring those juxtapositions in the performance. How does having your period – or not – makes or unmakes you as a woman?”
The audience is invited to move freely throughout the space, simultaneously altering the outcome of the piece and their perception of it.
Part II: The Ritual
Part II will be a collectively created ritual symbolizing the offering of our female body to the ancient goddesses. It will take place at the Chamizal National Memorial in the stone courtyard located outside the main building. It will begin at 7:00 PM on Friday, May 27th, 2016 and last for about one hour. There will be limited sitting and the public is encouraged to arrive early and bring their own seat if needed.
“I am very excited to have so much support for this performance,” said Ms. Lopez, “not only by my fellow artists but also by the community. The piece is funded in part by MCAD’s Artist Incubator Program and the National Endowment for the Arts, which is allowing us to offer both performances free to the public. We are also supported by Amor por Juarez and the El Paso Community Foundation who are donating the space at The Station Urban Offices and by in2improv who is helping with logistics.”
“In this world where there is still so much violence towards women” said Ms. Bustillos, “we are excited to create an alternative response using our mediums of dance, poetry and image to redefine and recreate ideas of womanhood. It is a very timely and relevant piece and we hope that you come and engage with it!”
- Paola Lopez R. (BFA, MEd) is a dancemaker, improviser and performance activist. She is the Founder and Director of in2improv – an art-based organization that empowers communities through performance and improvisation – and is currently a faculty member at the Theatre and Dance Department at the University of Texas at El Paso. For more information visit www.sandrapaolalopez.com or call Paola at 618-409-8551.