“Imagine if feminism was a super hero.”
That’s what local dance artist Laura Boynes is asking of audiences this month, when she presents and performs Wonder Woman, a double bill of solo dance works.
It’s the recent groundswell of support for women’s rights – in the form of international and national women’s marches, as well as the #metoo and Time’s Up campaigns – that initially moved Boynes to commission NSW-based choreographers Adelina Larsson and Julie-Anne Long to create the solos.
In this Q&A with Nina Levy, Laura spills the beans about making Wonder Woman.
Nina Levy: Why did you choose to name your show for Wonder Woman?
Laura Boynes: Wonder Woman seemed like a fitting title as one of the first provocations I commissioned the choreographers with was “imagine if feminism was a superhero” and whether people believe Wonder Woman is a feminist icon or failure she remains a feminist symbol 75 years after her creation. Whilst I am not portraying Wonder Woman the character, the work speaks to the idea that potentially there is a “Shero” within all women. What does an everyday superhero look like?
NL: There’s no questioning the timeliness and relevance of this work… but what inspired you to commission the two solos that comprise Wonder Woman?
LB: Firstly, I attended a symposium in 2016 Fremantle titled “we are not dead yet” which spoke about gender and age dynamics within contemporary arts practice and in particular invisibility of the older female artist. It was an incredibly inspiring lecture series and sparked a passion in me to respond to some of these themes by creating a new work. Secondly, a personal need to push my own practice as a performer by working with two artists I hadn’t previously worked with in a new format and the urge to take on the challenge of a full length solo work.
NL: Originally you were motivated by campaigns such as #metoo and Time’s Up. How has Wonder Woman evolved from this starting point?
LB: There is no doubt that #metoo and Time’s Up were the catalyst for Wonder Woman. While the issues are still relevant, a few years have passed since these political movements. The works we have ended up creating don’t deal directly with these events and thankfully I don’t have a personal #metoo story to uncover, however there is an undertone in what has become a semi-autobiographical and empowering work.
NL: The choreographers you commissioned to create the solos are Adelina Larsson and Julie-Anne Long. What drew you to those two dance artists?
LB: I chose these women for their individuality, and the choreographic aesthetic and thematic similarities in their prior bodies of work.
I had worked with Adelina in the past but never in this capacity. I had always been interested in her choreographic practice based, which is based heavily in improvisation, and also her commitment to larger social/political causes like BighART, where she works as a choreographer.
I met Julie-Anne in 2008 in a dance film lab and have been following her work every since. Julie-Anne has an extensive body of work spanning over many years. Part social/political commentary and part autobiographical, her work is clever, humorous and always has something to say. It was learning about her 2007 work The Invisibility Project that really led me to approach her for this project, along with a desire for cross-generational exchange.
NL: What does dance/dance theatre provide, in terms of being able to explore issues relating to women’s rights and feminism, that other art-forms don’t?
LB: I believe movement can say a multitude of things that words cannot, which is why I love this art form. Contemporary dance allows a viewer time and space to think and project their own thoughts onto what they are watching. Each audience member has a uniquely different experience of a dance work and that is why it is such a subjective form.
NL: What do you hope people will take away from Wonder Woman?
LB: My desire is for the audience to take away a sense of empowerment from Wonder Woman regardless of their gender. I want us to celebrate our strengths and flaws as humans and to feel a sense of community in knowing that others share the same experiences.
Laura Boynes is an independent dance artist based in Perth. For the last 11 years, Laura has worked professionally as a performer, and has been creating her own work for about 7 years. Her work to date explores social, political and environmental concepts for theatre, gallery and site-specific spaces. She uses performance as a tool to inspire critical thought and reflection on the contemporary world.
As a dancer Laura has worked nationally and internationally in dance, theatre, experimental music, site-specific and opera works. What she enjoys most is taking on a performance challenge and collaborating with a choreographer to realise their vision.